Book Chapter

Exploring the potential of shadow accounts in problematising institutional conduct


Dey C, Russell S & Thomson I (2010) Exploring the potential of shadow accounts in problematising institutional conduct. In: Osbourne S & Ball A (eds.) Social Accounting and Public Management: Accountability for the Public Good. Routledge Critical Studies in Public Management. London: Routledge, pp. 64-75.

First paragraph: Within the extensive social and environmental accounting literature (Thomson 2007) there are reports of a particular form of social accounting produced by external organisations, including campaigning NGOs1, on their representation of the social and environmental impacts of others (see, for example, Moerman and Van der Laan 2005; Gallhofer et al. 2006; Dey 2007). The intended audience for these reports was not simply the organisation associated with the problematic impacts, but also included political institutions, the media, and sections of the general public (Gray 1997; Harte and Owen 1987; Medawar 1976; Cooper et al. 2005; Collison et al. 2007). Given that the reports attempted to challenge, problematise and delegitimate those currently in a dominant position of power, implicitly we understand that these accounts will be prepared by, or on behalf of, less powerful social groups. They may therefore be thought of as an “accounting for the other, by the other” (cf. Shearer 2002), or more concisely, “shadow accounts” (Dey 2007). In this chapter, we consider the role of shadow accounts in systematically creating alterative representations, new visibilities and knowledge of existing situations in order to problematise, act as a catalyst for intervention and typically represent the views of oppressed social groups or ecological systems.

Title of seriesRoutledge Critical Studies in Public Management
Publication date31/12/2010
Publisher URL
Place of publicationLondon