Institutional pluralism, two publics theory and performance reporting practices in Zambia’s health sector

Joseph Phiri, Pinar Guven-Uslu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
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Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to investigate accounting and performance reporting practices embraced in the midst of a pluralistic institutional environment of an emerging economy (EE), Zambia. The research is necessitated due to the increased presence and influence of donor institutions whose information needs may not conform to the needs of local citizens in many EEs.

Design/methodology/approach: The study draws on institutional pluralism and Ekeh’s post-colonial theory of “two publics” to depict pluralistic environments that are typical of EEs. Primary data were collected through semi-structured interviews with 33 respondents drawn from the main stakeholder groups involved in health service delivery including legislators, policy makers, regulators, healthcare professionals and health service managers. Data analysis took the form of thematic analysis which involved identifying, analysing and constructing patterns and themes implicit within the data that were deemed to address the study’s research questions.

Findings: Findings indicate that Zambia’s institutional environment within the health sector is highly fragmented and pluralistic as reflected by the multiplicity of both internal and external stakeholders. These stakeholder groups equally require different reporting mechanisms to fulfil their information expectations.

Social implications: The multiple reporting practices evident within the health sector entail that the effectiveness of health programmes may be compromised due to the fragmentation in goals between government and international donor institutions. Rather than pooling resources and skills for maximum impact, these practices have the effect of dispersing performance efforts with the consequence of compromising their impact. Fragmented reporting equally complicates the work of policy makers in terms of monitoring the progress and impact of such programmes.

Originality/value: Beyond Goddard et al. (2016), the study depicts the usefulness of Ekeh’s theory in understanding how organisations and institutions operating in pluralistic institutional environments may be better managed. In view of contradictory expectations of accounting and performance reporting requirements between the civic and primordial publics, the study indicates that different practices, mechanisms and structures have to be embraced in order to maintain institutional harmony and relevance to different communities within the health sector.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-162
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Accounting in Emerging Economies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Feb 2018

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