The institutionalization of public sector accounting reforms: the role of pilot entities Susana Jorge
Uploaded by Susana Jorge     Uploaded date: February 25, 2021    
Publication date
February 25, 2021
Paper language
This paper aims at understanding the action of pilot entities, in order to ultimately infer about their role to the overall reform process of public sector accounting (PSA).
Taking the Portuguese case as a reference, the new institutional theory (isomorphism perspective) and institutional logics are used to explain the action and stance of pilot entities in the implementation process of reforms.
Pilot experiments are expected to provide feedback on the main difficulties felt in the implementation of a new PSA system, helping to define a global strategy to overcome those problems and to improve the system to be generally and finally put into practice. Nevertheless, entities seem to find it important to be pilots, more for individual advantages than for the common benefit of the reform as a whole. Therefore, in order for them to actually be important actors in the reform process, pilots need to be included in the decision process, better realizing the benefits of the new IPSAS-based system and be provided with the proper technical, human and financial support.
Research limitations/implications
This research suffers from some limitations, namely concerning the use of questionnaires. The findings may, in some points, reflect the perceptions of the respondents and not the actual reality. Additionally, the respondents were not asked about any personal background factors, which may influence their answers. Also, they did not allow relating the new PSA system features with the way pilot entities (re)acted. In regard to the implications for practice, the study points to a need for decision-makers and external support bodies to work more closely with pilot entities in the overall design and implementation of PSA reforms. Pilot entities need to understand the importance and usefulness of changes, and reform authorities need to better recognize their institutional reality and the support they require. Only in this way, the use of pilots can make a difference in the implementation of PSA innovations.
This paper contributes to theory by adding to a better understanding of the role of the ones acting in the development and implementation of PSA innovations, enlightening on how pilot entities can act/react. Despite several studies on PSA reforms, very few so far have addressed pilot entities in particular, their attitude and actual contribution toward PSA reforms, and why. The case of Portugal as a frontrunner in adopting an IPSAS-based system within the EU helps contribute to that understanding in the setting of European countries.
Preferred Citation
Jorge, S., Nogueira, S.P. and Ribeiro, N. (2020), "The institutionalization of public sector accounting reforms: the role of pilot entities", Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.
Accounting innovations, Implementation strategy, Institutional theory, Institutional logics.
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International Accounting / Accounting Harmonization
Type of Paper
Published paper

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