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Title: Accounting for social value: exploring local perspectives and annual reporting by local third sector infrastructure organisations in England
Authors: Maddocks, John Edwin
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: The Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 led to increased interest in social value among public service and third sector organisations, due to its perceived potential for securing greater economic, social or environmental benefits. The non-prescriptive nature of the legislation offers flexibility for interpreting and communicating social value. Utilising multiple constituency theory (MCT), institutional reality theory (IRT) and accountability concepts, the study explores interpretations of social value from local authority, community foundation and local third sector infrastructure organisation (LTSIO) perspectives, and their influence on LTSIO annual reporting. A qualitative multi-methods research design supported exploration of local perspectives and reporting practice. Thematic analysis of local authority documents, LTSIO annual reports and interviews with local authority, community foundation and LTSIO managers contributed to the study’s findings. Multiple interpretations of social value were found to co-exist within an overarching theme of economic, social and environmental benefits. Although resource providers presented as dominant constituencies influencing definitions, the study adds to knowledge and theory in developing a more nuanced version of MCT power perspectives by recognising power ceded to service providers where major changes in resource interdependency are evident. Additionally, the findings contribute to social accounting literature by highlighting perceptions of monetised metrics as epistemologically subjective, unstable representations of social and economic reality. Conversely, alternative reporting methods incorporating epistemologically objective non-monetised metrics and illustrative examples offer more stable and transparent representations of social value. The findings also contribute to policy and practice by demonstrating that organisational social responsibilities (OSR) constitute the basis of LTSIO reporting on social value. Extending charity accounting guidance to encourage reporting on ethical and citizenship dimensions of OSR alongside social mission would further a more holistic accountability. The use of MCT and IRT alongside accountability concepts provides a highly applicable lens for understanding accounts of social value from differing constituency perspectives.
Description: Ph. D. Thesis.
Appears in Collections:Newcastle University Business School

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