Turning around accountability

Li, Y. , McKernan, J. and Chen, M. (2022) Turning around accountability. Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, 35(1), pp. 48-60. (doi: 10.1108/AAAJ-08-2020-4889)

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Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of the paper is to describe and analyse the nature of accountability for human rights, as enacted by the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC), in this time of globalization and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Design/methodology/approach: The authors focus on one case of alleged union-busting and unfair dismissal carried out under the cover of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tracing the action of that case, the authors show how the BHRRC provides a digital platform for dialogues of accountability. The authors use a Latourian theoretical perspective to guide the progress of the study’s analysis. Findings: The authors find that the dialogues of accountability enacted on the BHRRC platform cannot be satisfactorily characterized in terms of an old politics of hegemony, counterhegemony and counter accounts. The authors find that the accountability enacted on the platform operates in three modes: in a political mode to support the formation of issues and publics and the embedding of norms; in an organizational mode to support the (re)organizing business corporations around scripts of respect for human rights; in a moral mode to keep scruples concerning means and ends and the pursuit of better outcomes, open. Originality/value: The paper is novel, in that it engages with the part that accounting can play in politics conceived in Latourian terms; in its introduction, a notion of modes of accountability on the foundations of Latour’s exploration of modes of existence; in its challenge to the value of critical accounting conceived in terms of hegemony and counterhegemony.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:Modes of existence, accountability, politics, critique, human rights and business, COVID-19, Latour, agonism, hegemony, couter-accounting.
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Li, Dr Yingru and Chen, Ms Meiyi and McKernan, Professor John
Authors: Li, Y., McKernan, J., and Chen, M.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Accounting and Finance
Journal Name:Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Publisher:Emerald
ISSN:0951-3574
ISSN (Online):1758-4205
Published Online:06 April 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 Emerald Publishing Limited
First Published:First published in Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal 35(1): 48-60
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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