Accounting information disclosure and accountability cases from Libya.
Research to date has focused on explaining disclosure and accountability practices
mainly in liberal market economies. Accountability and disclosure studies have been
embedded in WestemlEuro-centric economic and social theories. Although there have
been a growing number of theoretical accountability studies, few empirical studies have
been conducted to explore the nature of accountability in the public sector and the
private sector. Disclosure and accountability practices in non-competitive markets have
been given little attention in the literature. The focus of this thesis is to understand
information disclosure practices and accountability construction processes in the
predominant socialist and Arabic context of Libya. This study contributes to knowledge
by explaining how the practices of disclosure and accountability in such context occur.
Explaining disclosure and accountability practices in relation to the state and the public
contributes to the current debate around these practices.
This study reported on data collected from two case studies conducted in Libya: the
Secretary of Industry (SI) and the National Trailers Company (NTC). The Secretary of
Industry's responsibilities included supervising thirty-one companies including the
National Trailers Company. The National Trailers Company was a joint venture
company where the State, represented by the Secretary of Industry, owned 75 per cent
of the capital and an Italian company, Calabrese, owned 25 per cent of the capital. The
aim of the study was to understand how information was disclosed and accountability
was constructed and to explain the relationships between disclosure and accountability
in the SI-NTC context. The study used Sinclair's (1995) forms of accountability as a
point of reference to explore whether these forms were identified and understood
similarly in the Libyan context.
The study's observations showed that disclosure and accountability practices within the
SI-NTC context were different from those identified in the literature. Information was
disclosed upon request and followed mainly accountability routes. The role of
managerial and financial accountability in this process was emphasised. The study
proposed an explanation for the SI-NTC disclosure and accountability practices that
took into consideration the role of not only economic, but also social and cultural
aspects in these practices. This explanation encompassed values and beliefs that were
related not only to secular, but also to sacred activities. The observations showed that
Islamic construction of identity and accountability of a person (all persons) to Allah was
embedded in the accountability process.
The study's contribution was two-fold. The first was related to the process and the
practice of disseminating the company's information - information enclosure - and the
second was related to the accountability construction process - accountability webs.
Information enclosure theory was proposed to explain the company's disclosure
(enclosure) practices. The proposed theory was different from the conventional
disclosure theories in that it reflected the role of not only economic but also social
relationships in the information provided. Information was provided to those who
constituted "the organisational web" of accountability where the influence of social
relationships and personal connections - "the social web" - was present.