The governance and accountability of professional accountancy bodies - a case study of the Council of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales

Smith, Susan Anne (2020) The governance and accountability of professional accountancy bodies - a case study of the Council of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

The objective of this thesis is to contribute to the understanding of the processes of governance and accountability of a large professional accountancy body based on the case of the Council of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW). The research questions examined how the ICAEW Council is governed, how it exercises accountability to the membership and other stakeholders and how the variety of interests of the Council members are shaping the governance of the ICAEW. As governance structures and processes determine the criteria for obtaining a professional qualification and attaining membership of professional accountancy bodies, it is important to understand their structures of governance and accountability practices.
A Bourdieusian analytical framework was used to provide insight into the following key themes of the thesis: the governance structures of the ICAEW, the vested interests of those forming the Council, the claims to act in the public interest, and the approach to balance the competing interests of the members. Empirical evidence was collected through a series of 25 semi-structured interviews with members of the ICAEW Council.
The findings reveal that the public accountability of the ICAEW to its membership and other stakeholders is constrained by its structures, which lead to imbalances in the interests represented within the Council. This challenges the Council’s ability to adequately reflect the public interest in the policy making process. At the same time, the ICAEW deploys the concept of public interest as a legitimating tool in its accountability discourse with stakeholders to maintain and enhance its symbolic power.
In addition, the findings also demonstrate that the composition of the ICAEW Council aims to symbolise its accountability and inclusivity to its membership. For instance, the findings reveal that the District Society network is a conduit to accountability for elected members. Finally, the study emphasises that the increasing heterogeneity of the membership will intensify the pressures on the governance and accountability structures. Therefore, the continuous development and transformation of the current governance and accountability practices is required to maintain the symbolic power of the ICAEW and its capacity to represent the profession as a whole.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > Accounting and Finance
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5001 Business > HF5601 Accounting. Bookkeeping
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 18 Aug 2020 05:50
Last Modified: 18 Aug 2020 05:50
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/92863

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