Socializing accounting practices in governing boards: dairy co-operatives down-under

Van Peursem, K
Old, Kevin
Locke, S
Journal Article
Fields of Research
ANZSRC::0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management
Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the accountability practices of the directors in New Zealand and Australian dairy co-operatives. An interpretation of their practices, which focus on the relationship between directors and their farmer-shareholders, is informed by Roberts' (2001a) understandings of a socializing accountability. Design/methodology/approach: The fieldwork consists of interviews with 23 directors, including all chief executive officers and chairmen, of six dairy co-operatives together with observations and document analysis. These co-operatives together comprise a significant portion of the regional dairy industry. The methodology draws from Eisenhardt's (1989) qualitative approach to theory formation. Findings: The authors find that these directors engage in a discourse-based, community-grounded and egalitarian form of socializing accountability. As such, their practices adhere generally to Roberts (2001a) hopes for a more considerate and humble relationship between an accountor and an accountee. Social implications: Findings add to the small pool of research on the lived experiences of co-operative boards and to a parsimonious literature in socializing accountability practices. The contributions of the study are in advancing real understandings of alternative forms of accountability, in evaluating the conditions in which these alternatives may be likely to arise and in anticipating the challenges and opportunities that arise therefrom. Originality/value: The originality of the project arises from accessing the views of these industry leaders and, through their frank expressions, coming to understand how they achieve a form of a socializing accountability in their relationships with farmer-shareholders.
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