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Legitimacy, Accountability and Impression Management in NGOs: The Indian Ocean Tsunami


Conway, SL and O'Keefe, PA and Hrasky, SL, Legitimacy, Accountability and Impression Management in NGOs: The Indian Ocean Tsunami, Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, 28, (7) pp. 1075-1098. ISSN 0951-3574 (2015) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2015 Emerald Group Publishing

DOI: doi:10.1108/AAAJ-04-2012-01007


Purpose – Prior research has investigated legitimation strategies in corporate annual reports in the for-profit sector. The purpose of this paper is to investigate this phenomenon in an NGO environment. It investigates Australian overseas aid agencies’ responses to criticism of the relief effort following the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004. It aims to determine whether voluntary annual report disclosures were reflective of impression management and/or of the discharge of functional accountability. Design/methodology/approach – The paper applies content analysis to compare the structure and content of the annual reports of 19 Australian overseas aid agencies before and after the Indian Ocean tsunami. Findings – Results suggest voluntary disclosure in annual reports significantly increased post-tsunami and was more consistent with impression management activity rather than functional accountability suggesting a response to the legitimacy challenge. The use of impression management tactics differed with agency size, with larger agencies using ingratiation in order to appear more attractive while smaller ones promoted their particular achievements. Originality/value – This paper makes a contribution by extending prior impression management and legitimacy literature to an NGO environment. It has implications for the development of these theories as it looks at organisations where the stakeholders are different from the for-profit sector and profits are not the main concern. It raises issues about the concept of accountability in the NGO sector, and how the nature of organisation reporting is changing to address the challenges of a sector where access to funds is highly competitive.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Legitimacy, Impression management, Functional accountability, Non-government Organizations
Research Division:Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services
Research Group:Accounting, auditing and accountability
Research Field:Accounting, auditing and accountability not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Law, Politics and Community Services
Objective Group:Government and politics
Objective Field:Public services policy advice and analysis
UTAS Author:Conway, SL (Ms Susan Conway)
UTAS Author:O'Keefe, PA (Mrs Patricia O'Keefe)
UTAS Author:Hrasky, SL (Dr Susan Hrasky)
ID Code:97830
Year Published:2015
Web of Science® Times Cited:28
Deposited By:TSBE
Deposited On:2015-01-14
Last Modified:2016-02-18

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