Revitalising local democracy: A social capital analysis in the context of a New Zealand local authority

Robert Ochoki Nyamori, Stewart R. Lawrence, Hector B. Perera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Using an exploratory case study, we assess whether markets and strategic performance management systems (SPMS) enhanced social capital of a local authority in New Zealand and its capacity to foster democracy. We found that SPMS enhanced the interaction among managers and between managers and residents and provided residents with opportunities to participate in local authority decision-making. Market forms of management however, promoted individualism and the pursuit of narrow departmental goals. There was increased control by managers and greater reliance on experts which diminished local people's participation (and the role of councillors) in local affairs. The pairing of contradictory discourses based on efficiency, markets and participatory democracy promoted an overly rational form of democracy inimical to a deliberative democracy. The relations between staff were in a state of continuous tension. The paper contributes to an understanding on how the interaction between the state and local authorities affects local authority social capital and the potential effects on community social capital and local democracy. This paper demonstrates a need for greater attention to the contest between different discourses in the construction and sustenance of social capital and the pursuit of democracy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)572-594
Number of pages23
JournalCritical Perspectives on Accounting
Issue number7-8
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Accountability
  • Critical
  • Democracy
  • New Public Management
  • Public interest
  • Social capital

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Information Systems and Management


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