We set them up for failure: Performativity, corporate reporting and decolonisation

Ellie Norris, Shawgat Kutubi, Steven Greenland, Ruth Wallace

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    Purpose: This research aims to examine the performativity of corporate reports as an example of an accounting inscription that can frame the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander entities and their stakeholders. The framing and overflow effects of these reports have been explored to consider whether they strengthen or undermine the reputation and capability of these community-controlled entities.

    Design/methodology/approach: Aligned with actor–network theory and a decolonising research protocol, qualitative interviews were conducted with senior managers and directors of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander entities and their key stakeholders to explore their experiences of corporate reporting. Additional analysis of these organisations' annual reports was conducted to corroborate key reporting themes. 

    Findings: This research has identified a dual role for corporate reporting, simultaneously framing performance against an expectation of failure, but with the potential for accounting inscriptions to highlight positive contributions to cultural and community priorities. It also indicates the need for sector specifics within the reporting frameworks and adequate resourcing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander entities to meet reporting obligations. 

    Practical implications: This research makes policy-based recommendations in terms of user-driven and culturally informed performance measures. It also highlights the importance of adequate funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander entities to carry out meaningful performance evaluations beyond the preparation of financial statements.

    Originality/value: One of the few empirical studies to capture the performativity of accounting inscriptions from the perspective of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander entities. This sector has received minimal attention within the accounting discipline, despite significantly contributing to community well-being and cultural protection. There is emancipatory potential via policy frameworks that resonate with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural beliefs and practices.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-29
    Number of pages29
    JournalAccounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
    Early online date2023
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2023

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