Institutional entrepreneurs and stakeholders’ involvement in shaping global public sector accounting standards in New Zealand

Forskningsoutput: KonferensbidragSammanfattning


This study investigates the roles of institutional entrepreneurs and stakeholders’ involvement, and their interactions, in enabling the development and adaptation of International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) for public sector financial reporting.  This back 25 years, when it was anticipated that public sector reforms in Australia, the UK and New Zealand would result in a shift from a public service, whose purpose had been to promote public welfare, to an enterprise culture based on ‘efficiency and economics’ (Mascarenhas 1993). Similarly Boyett had earlier noted that ‘there may be a “new strain of leadership - the public sector entrepreneur – (is) emerging to display many of the characteristics of their business counterparts’. However incentives for entrepreneurial activity are not the traditional profit motive. “Entrepreneurship occurs in the public sector where there is an uncertain environment, a devolution of power, and at the same time re-allocation of resource ownership, to unit management level” (Boyett 1996). The value of this study is in applying the theory of institutional entrepreneurs in such environments, in New Zealand, examining the development of NPM concomitant with leadership and entrepreneurship. We discuss the evolution and roles of institutional entrepreneurs (in the Treasury, standard setting appointees, and the Officer of the Auditor General) in the public sector, and reactions and involvement of other stakeholders in the development and adaptation of IPSAS.

A qualitative research design was implemented through conducting interviews with key actors whose responses are interpreted through the lens of Institutional Entrepreneurship Theory. The findings unveil the powerful role of the institutional entrepreneur that initiates divergent changes, which break with the institutionalized template for organizing public sector accounting within the Kiwi institutional context, and actively participate in the implementation of these changes. The change from ‘sector-neutral’ standards to sector-specific standards after 2010 was facilitated by the achievements to date of the institutional entrepreneurs, concomitant with New Zealand providing global leaders in public sector accounting.

The institutional entrepreneur ‘on the ground’ had at times mobilized their power relationships and deep personal networks to gain support of, and generate active involvement, of other stakeholders operating in the field. Stakeholder involvement is needed to complement the change agenda of the institutional entrepreneur, to the end of effectively implementing accounting changes. This paper contributes to the literature on public sector accounting change by theorizing on the mutual need of institutional entrepreneurs and stakeholders’ involvement to shape global standards in local contexts.



Konferens17th biennial CIGAR conference on the theme: Alternative views on Public Sector Accounting and Financial Management, Amsterdam, 13-14 June 2019.
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