Use and non-use of accounting information: the case of controversial projects in public and non-profit settings

Jan van Helden, Eugenio Caperchione, Anna Francesca Pattaro

    OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

    1 Citaat (Scopus)
    36 Downloads (Pure)


    This paper investigates whether and how accounting information is used in debates and decision-making processes about controversial projects in public sector and non-profit settings in the Netherlands and Italy. The research is based on two case studies and relies on multiple methods of qualitative data collection, including documents, interviews with key actors and media reports. The research finds a more limited extent of accounting information use than expected given the controversiality of the projects. It raises various types of explanations for this limited accounting information use, especially that ruling groups of actors supporting the project do not give room to the opposing minority for putting forward their concerns and preferences. The power position of the ruling majority thus matters in mitigating opportunities for a dialogic use of accounting information leading to the decision-making about the projects. So, controversiality is a determining factor, but insufficient as an explanation for the extent to which accounting information is used. In addition, the type of accounting information use is depending on the actors’ appreciation of the project. Advocates and opponents concerning both projects were in general inclined to an ammunition type of accounting information use, whereas actors holding a neutral position used available accounting information in a more rational way.
    Originele taal-2English
    Aantal pagina's24
    TijdschriftCritical Perspectives on Accounting
    StatusAccepted/In press - 30-sep.-2021

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