Macquarie University
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Stakeholder accountability in the Australian not-for-profit sector

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posted on 2022-03-28, 16:52 authored by Jinhua (Jessica) Chen
In recent decades, not-for-profit (NFP) accountability has become an increasingly important research area in Australia and worldwide due to the sector’s growing presence in the economic and social landscape. In response to ongoing significant reforms in the sector in Australia and limited knowledge in the area, this thesis examines stakeholder accountability in the Australian NFP sector. The data for the thesis were collected via a mail survey of the top management of 621 NFP organizations (NFPs) across Australia. The thesis is by publication format and comprises three inter-related but distinct papers. The first paper constructs and validates a scale for Jones et al.’s (2007) stakeholder culture in the NFP context. Jones et al.’s (2007) theoretical typology of stakeholder culture, representing the beliefs, values and practices that an organization exhibits toward stakeholders, is particularly relevant for NFPs. However, a scale to measure the construct is absent in the literature. A stakeholder culture scale is constructed following an extensive literature review and consultations with academics and NFP personnel. Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA) and Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) were conducted to assess the internal structure and psychometric properties of the scale. The results establish the scale’s reliability and validity. The second paper applies and tests Mitchell et al.’s (1997) stakeholder salience framework in the NFP context. The study identifies salient stakeholders in NFPs and examines the influence of three stakeholder attributes, namely, power, moral legitimacy and urgency, on stakeholder salience. The study also tests the moderating effects of top management’s values and stakeholder culture (as constructed in the first paper) on the relation between the stakeholder attributes and stakeholder salience. The results support the application of Mitchell et al.’s (1997) stakeholder salience framework in the NFP context and support Jones et al.’s (2007) propositions concerning the moderating role of stakeholder culture on the stakeholder attributes and salience relation. The third paper examines NFPs’ use of accountability mechanisms and investigates the association between stakeholder characteristics (i.e., stakeholder power and stakeholder salience as examined in the second paper) and NFPs’ use of accountability mechanisms. The results indicate that while the use of the accountability mechanism of participation is related to client power, the use of accountability mechanisms of performance assessment and evaluation and self-regulation is driven by funding agents’ salience. The results of the three papers allow the conclusion that, even in times of regulatory uncertainty and hostile funding competition, NFPs still genuinely care for their clients and view clients as the most salient stakeholder group. However, in practice, NFPs pay more attention to addressing funding agents’ accountability requirements. In the NFP context, stakeholder salience is driven primarily by the stakeholder attributes of power and urgency. The findings of the thesis make important theoretical contributions to the literature and have significant practical implications for NFP management in strategy formulation and implementation and for regulatory bodies in policy deliberation.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Overview of the thesis -- Chapter 2. Paper 1. Developing and validating a measure of stakeholder culture for the not-for-profit sector -- Chapter 3. Paper 2. Who and what really count? An examination of stakeholder attributes and salience in the not-for-profit sector -- Chapter 4. Paper 3.Stakeholder characteristics and not-for-profit accountability mechanisms -- Chapter 5. Summary and conclusions.


Bibliography: pages 214-236 "A thesis submitted to Macquarie University in fulfilment of the requirement for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Faculty of Business and Economics" Thesis by publication. "July 2014"

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University,Faculty of Business and Economics, Department of Accounting and Corporate Governance

Department, Centre or School

Department of Accounting and Corporate Governance

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Maria Dyball

Additional Supervisor 1

Alan Kilgore

Additional Supervisor 2

Graeme Harrison


Copyright Jinhua (Jessica) Chen 2014. Copyright disclaimer:




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