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This study investigates a contest of ideas that took place between public sector accrual accounting (PSAA) and Government Finance Statistics (GFS) in the Australian state of New South Wales. The debate, its context and its course is historically analysed from a neo-institutional theory perspective, employing both documentary and oral history sources. Important in PSAA's win over GFS were: phantom images of PSAA success; a dominant politician; discourse control directing attention to the balance sheet; and, normative isomorphism from professionally qualified public sector accountants. Understanding public sector accounting change requires analysis beyond technical change; in this case the actors and their motives overwhelmed the technical.

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This page is a summary of: USING IDEAS TO ADVANCE PROFESSIONS: PUBLIC SECTOR ACCRUAL ACCOUNTING, Financial Accountability and Management, July 2010, Wiley,
DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0408.2010.00501.x.
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