PhD Cohort Seminar: Brendan O’Dwyer and Lars Thøger Christensen
Brendan O’Dwyer and Lars Thøger Christensen
Accountability and Transparency: Theoretical Perspectives and Applications
One-day Seminar at Copenhagen Business School
22nd November 2012
Professor Brendan O’Dwyer, University of Amsterdam (BOD)
Professor Lars Thøger Christensen, The University of Southern Denmark (LTC)
Professor Andreas Rasche, Copenhagen Business School, ICM
This seminar focuses on two important and interrelated topics: organizational accountability and transparency. The first half of the day will contain two sessions on accountability (delivered by Professor Brendan O’Dwyer). These sessions will explore the evolution of accountability and assurance in corporate and non-corporate contexts. The first session will examine two papers studying the nature of accountability in two distinct domains: nongovernment organizations (NGOs) and the international finance sector. The first paper critically considers conceptions of accountability as they are manifested at the organizational level while the second seeks to understand how social accountability can evolve at the institutional level. The nature of accountability evident in both domains will be discussed and critiqued. The second session will critically consider the problems of and prospects for providing assurance on organizational sustainability (and integrated) reporting as a way of ensuring greater organizational accountability for reporting content. We will review, through the experiences of practitioners, the assurance dimension crucial to the credibility of sustainability (and integrated) reporting. We will also assess basic theoretical frameworks within which we can seek to understand the struggles of practitioners as they strive to make reported sustainability information ’auditable’. The second half of the day will discuss transparency in the context of corporations. The sessions put special emphasis on the fact that any investigation of transparency as a social ideal and practice needs to acknowledge its fundamental ambiguity as a source of both clarity and opacity, light and darkness. While transparency is advanced by new communication technologies, increased information availability, growing social pressure, institutionalized standards, etc., it is simultaneously constrained by strategies, framings, expert languages, resources, enactments and power plays of organizations and other social actors. Taking its point of departure in this fundamental ambiguity, the aim of the two sessions is to discuss the interplay between accustomed, accepted and institutionalized understandings of transparency, as we find for example in legislation and established transparency regimes, and the practical meaning of organizational transparency, as the ideal is discussed, interpreted and implemented within and among different organizations.
The sessions are designed to be highly interactive and active student participation will be encouraged and expected in a friendly open learning environment. Hence, students are expected to have carefully read and critically reviewed the required reading papers outlined below prior to each session. They should also refer to the recommended background reading to further inform their analysis of the core papers covered as these will also be drawn upon throughout the sessions.