From Secrecy to Transparency: Accounting and the Transition from Religious Charity to Publicly-Owned Hospital

G. Robbins, Irvine Lapsley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This paper examines the experiences of a publicly owned hospital which had formerly been part of a religious order of nuns. This paper presents novel findings to extend our understanding of the emergent theory of transparency in the public sector. The literature on secrecy and transparency is drawn upon to inform a case study investigation of the use of accounting under both forms of ownership. This reveals both the continuing influence of this hospital's prior existence and the difficulties of adapting to public ownership. The findings reveal the tensions of the change from secretive religious organisation and history of parsimony to current public sector organisation. The end state of public sector ownership brings its own difficulties, with accounting systems failing to achieve the aim of transparency.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-32
Number of pages14
JournalBritish Accounting Review
Volume47
Issue number1
Early online date6 Nov 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • charity
  • religious secrecy
  • public ownership
  • transparency
  • health care

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