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Title: Charity accountability : evidence from the United Kingdom (UK)
Author: Al Fadhel, Hessa Mubarak
ISNI:       0000 0004 7656 6289
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis examines UK charities' accountability through the use of annual reports and annual reviews as formal accountability tools. The overall aim of the thesis is to undertake a coherent analysis of the accountability of annual reports and annual reviews using multiple dimensions of text and disclosures by empirically examining UK charities' accountability disclosure. Given the overall aim, the objectives of this thesis are: first, to assess the effectiveness of narrative communication textual characteristics - specifically chairman's statements - in the context of the role played by trustees in delivering charity accountability; second, to examine the determinants of the extent of performance disclosures in the top 100 UK fundraising charities; and third, to investigate narratives' disclosure trends, strategies and rationales in the annual reports by Kids Company to communicate its performance and activities over time and around critical events, until its final collapse and leaders cognitive behavioural traits (e.g., hubris) impact on disclosures. Systematic engagement with the literature surrounding charities' accountability helps to identify the problems and highlights the knowledge gaps in discharging accountability through public discourse. Three different theoretical frameworks are used to develop and address the research questions of the thesis: stakeholder theory, resource dependence theory, legitimacy theory and hubris. Due to the nature of the research questions and the theoretical framework, the underpinning philosophy for this study is pragmatism. The research outcome of the first paper revealed that charities tend to behave instrumentally when preparing chairman's statements to cover both bad and good news, but charities still reflect some ethical sense by adopting a felt accountability by prioritising internal accountability. The second paper showed that the overall level of the Performance Disclosure Index (PDI) remains weak with a high emphasis on input and output information and less focus on efficiency, outcome and effectiveness disclosures. Moreover, there have been shifts in the influence of resource providers and stakeholders on the level of charity accountability. The third paper revealed that positive and uncertainty words (frequencies) dominated the narrative disclosures, while more positive performance news was emphasised using hyperbole words. It was found that the charity responded to external concerns either reactively or proactively. Finally, informed by hubris literature, it is indicated that the most common form of hubris found in the CEO statements was overconfidence and attribution of performance to self. Overall, this thesis contributed to the field on a number of different levels - theoretical, methodological and contextual - as well as informing policy and practical implications by providing a multi-layered understanding of the charity accountability phenomenon within the UK context.
Supervisor: Vithana, Krishanthi Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available