Accounting for privatisation in Africa? Reflections from a critical interdisciplinary perspective

Josiah, J., Burton, B., Gallhofer, S. and Haslam, J. (2010) Accounting for privatisation in Africa? Reflections from a critical interdisciplinary perspective. Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 21(5), pp. 374-389. (doi: 10.1016/

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The interrelation of privatisation and accounting constitutes a wide-ranging focus for research that is attractive from a critical theoretical and interdisciplinary perspective. A number of studies may be considered part of this focus in holding themselves out as types of evaluation of – or as an accounting, or accountability, for – privatisation. For us, the evaluation of privatisation programmes is properly a concern of critical accounting research and of those interested in the development of more holistic forms of accounting and auditing for appraisal, such as is envisaged in forms of social accounting and social auditing. Indeed the assessment of privatisation has been deemed within the ambit of the social audit movement. Privatisation in Africa is controversial. In today's context it is often integral to the particular form of the globalisation process and carries related ambiguities. Apparently something of a panacea for its advocates, it is problem-ridden for its critics. How should we account for privatisation in Africa? We promote the delineation of a holistic accounting evaluation model by reflecting on a critical review of research constituting accounts of privatisation in Africa. Of course such research, to the extent that it is holistic or comprehensive, would include attention to the mobilisation in context of various accountings as well as related practices of governance at micro- and macro-levels—in turn reflecting the sense in which accounting, along with related systems of governance, is pervasive in privatisation processes. While we find strengths in the research analysed and acknowledge its contribution, we point to deficiencies and gaps from a critical theoretical and interdisciplinary perspective. These gaps and deficiencies delimit policy discourse and praxis vis-à-vis privatisation in Africa and beyond. They also point to a more holistic accounting model of appraisal. We acknowledge the particularities of Africa, and indeed of the differing nations, cultures and regions of Africa, but also suggest the model's relevance not only for African contexts but beyond.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Gallhofer, Prof Sonja
Authors: Josiah, J., Burton, B., Gallhofer, S., and Haslam, J.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Accounting and Finance
Journal Name:Critical Perspectives on Accounting
ISSN (Online):1095-9955

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