Emilia Florin-Samuelsson (2002)

Accountability and Family Business Contexts - An Interpretive Approach to Accounting and Control Practices

This thesis discusses accounting and control practices in terms of accountability, i.e. how organizational actors work out who is accountable to whom over what. The study investigates how different forms of accountability can emerge and develop in organizations represented as family- controlled. This focus is grounded in the arguments of the interpretive accounting research which describes different modes, styles, and versions of control and accountability as intertwined with organizational identity construction.

The empirical part of the study discusses accounting and control practices in two family businesses. The study showed that control practices and notions of sound organizing, which in the two cases included different approaches to the family business label, was intertwined. In keeping with the interpretive literature, the two case studies demonstrated differences in accountability when two organizational contexts were compared. As a possible contribution to the interpretive studies discussed in this thesis, the study also showed different styles of accountability to be interacting as well as repelling within an organizational context.

In short, this study showed both control practices and notions of family control to have consequences in terms of organizational accountability. In other words, also when advanced control practices are implemented, there could be fundamental differences in terms of accountability between different family business contexts as well as within an organizational context.