The role of structure in manipulating PPP accountability

C. Agyenim-Boateng, Anne Stafford, Pam Stapleton

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Abstract

PURPOSE – The paper examines the accounting and governance of Public Private
Partnerships (PPP) that are structured as joint venture partnerships. Drawing on Giddens’ structuration theory, the paper examines how human agents interact with these joint venture structures and analyses the effects on financial disclosures and public accountability for taxpayers’ investments.
DESIGN/METHODOLOGY/APPROACH – We adopt a cross case analysis to investigate two such PPP schemes, which form part of the UK’s programme of investment in primary health care, known as the Local Improvement Finance Trust (LIFT) policy. We employ a combination of interviews and analysis of financial statements and publicly available official documents.
FINDINGS – The corporate structure of these LIFT schemes is very complicated so that the financial accounting is opaque. The implication is that the joint venture mechanism cannot be relied upon to deliver transparency of reporting. The paper argues that the LIFT structures are deliberately constructed by human agents to act as barriers to transparency about public expenditure.
RESEARCH AND PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS – The financial reporting undermines
public accountability and transparency as both are necessarily restricted. Policy makers should pay attention to not only the private sector technologies but also the manner in which structures are used to reduce transparency and consequently undermine public accountability.
ORIGINALITY/VALUE – The paper provides detailed analysis from the perspective of Structuration Theory to show how human agents use structures to impact on financial reporting and public accountability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-144
JournalAccounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Volume30
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jan 2017

Keywords

  • Public Accountability, Transparency, Structuration Theory, Financialisation, Financial reporting, Public Private Partnerships, Joint Venture Partnerships, NHS LIFT.

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