Accounting, budgeting, performance measurement, and financial management systems can play a central role in improving public accountability, governance, and management, equipping public managers and policymakers responding to the challenges of financial, social and environmental sustainability. As such, they are often taken for granted, described as neutral, objective and technical responses to the needs of quantification, managerialisation, and better governance in the public sector. However, an increasing body of empirical studies has shown that the adoption and use of performance measurement systems in the public sector have produced unexpected and even undesired effects and that their positive effects on accountability, decision making, and organizational performance cannot be taken for granted. Indeed, accounting and performance measurement are socially, politically, culturally constructed and, in turn, implicated in the construction of public organizations and public value.
The contemporary worlds of public administration research a practice thus need to pay increased attention to the roles and impacts of accounting and performance measurement in the public realm and to the contextual conditions under which they are applied and work. This requires the adoption of an interdisciplinary stance, whereby single disciplines may be ill-suited to appreciate the wider scope of accounting and performance measurement antecedents and effects. Indeed, accounting and performance measurement are naturally at the intersection between disciplines, sectors, professions, interests, and powers, as well as academia and the practical world. They can thus provide an invaluable common ground and language among them, where their reciprocal interactions can be better understood, explained and made sense of.
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