Styles of accountability

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

143 Citations (Scopus)


Drawing on instances of operational management in British and German firms, this paper seeks to contrast different styles of implicating accounting in processes of accountability. It defines styles of accountability as a heuristic device to conceptualise the alignment of local organisational practice and rhetoric with wider societal discourses. As those discourses and their local alignment differ in Britain and Germany, two distinct styles of accountability can be observed: The British style privileges the reality of accounting information in judging proposals for operational action. That style is conceptualised in a return-risk-framework. Within the German style of accountability, accounting information is seen to be less capable of capturing the perceived reality of operational proposals. Processes of accountability rely more strongly on separately conceptualised functional expertise.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-173
Number of pages35
JournalAccounting, Organizations and Society
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Information Systems and Management


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