Microfinance: accountability from the grassroots

Dixon, Rob and Ritchie, John and Siwale, Juliana (2006) Microfinance: accountability from the grassroots. Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, 19 (3). pp. 405-427. ISSN 0951-3574

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/09513570610670352

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this research is to use an accountability framework to explain the emerging tensions in accountability and how an intended bottom-up approach became progressively supplanted. This paper is set within an emerging Zambian microfinance organisation moving into crisis.

Design/methodology/approach – A series of semi-structured interviews were conducted with key local microfinance specialists, managers and accountants, clients and past and current loan officers. Live observation of the client-loan officer interface and internal meetings provided triangulation on accountability relationships in the midst of crisis. Data were analysed using NVIVO, a qualitative computer software package.

Findings – The findings show that tensions between vertical and horizontal accountability in practice can be directly translated into heightened pressure and stresses on both the non-governmental organisation (NGO) and its loan officers, which constrain overall accountabilities to other stakeholders and disguise other potential dysfunctions.

Research limitations/implications – This study focussed on accountability at the grassroots in microfinance NGOs with a social mission. It reveals potential for further personal, community and socially constituted accounting research within microfinance in particular.

Originality/value – The paper adds to the literature on NGO accountability. It will be of value to researchers and practitioners seeking to gain a better understanding of not-for-profit organisations whose goals are not primarily wealth creation. It also gives details on under-researched areas in accounting, namely NGOs and poverty reduction, and practices in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Purpose – The purpose of this research is to use an accountability framework to explain the emerging tensions in accountability and how an intended bottom-up approach became progressively supplanted. This paper is set within an emerging Zambian microfinance organisation moving into crisis. Design/methodology/approach – A series of semi-structured interviews were conducted with key local microfinance specialists, managers and accountants, clients and past and current loan officers. Live observation of the client-loan officer interface and internal meetings provided triangulation on accountability relationships in the midst of crisis. Data were analysed using NVIVO, a qualitative computer software package. Findings – The findings show that tensions between vertical and horizontal accountability in practice can be directly translated into heightened pressure and stresses on both the non-governmental organisation (NGO) and its loan officers, which constrain overall accountabilities to other stakeholders and disguise other potential dysfunctions. Research limitations/implications – This study focussed on accountability at the grassroots in microfinance NGOs with a social mission. It reveals potential for further personal, community and socially constituted accounting research within microfinance in particular. Originality/value – The paper adds to the literature on NGO accountability. It will be of value to researchers and practitioners seeking to gain a better understanding of not-for-profit organisations whose goals are not primarily wealth creation. It also gives details on under-researched areas in accounting, namely NGOs and poverty reduction, and practices in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Keywords:Finance, Non-governmental organisations, Poverty, Zambia
Subjects:N Business and Administrative studies > N490 Accounting not elsewhere classified
Divisions:College of Social Science > Lincoln Business School
ID Code:5835
Deposited By: Juliana Siwale
Deposited On:13 Jun 2012 06:33
Last Modified:13 Mar 2013 09:10

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