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Identity constructions in the annual reports of international development NGOs: Preserving institutional interests?

Dhanani, Alpa ORCID: 2019. Identity constructions in the annual reports of international development NGOs: Preserving institutional interests? Critical Perspectives On Accounting 59 , pp. 1-31. 10.1016/

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This paper examines the enactment of identities in the annual reports of large, prestigious Northern development NGOs who have become a key player in the social, economic and political developments throughout the world. Drawing on postcolonial theory, it analyses the visual images that these organisations use to understand critically how they represent and construct identities about themselves and their divergent constituents, namely the Southern constituents they work with, and the funders and volunteers who support their activities. The analysis suggests that on the one hand, in accordance with the accountability remit of annual reports, organisations deploy visual imagery to complement their stories of successes and achievements. On the other, however, these representations also formulate identities about the organisations themselves and their divergent constituents. Organisations frequently (but possibly unintentionally) present their Southern constituents as reliant, dependent, passive, backward, voiceless, unintelligent and needing care in accordance with the traditional charity model of development. There are also signs that they segregate Africa from the rest of the world. In accordance with postcolonial theory, these representations enable organisations to construct themselves as reliable, able and knowledgeable experts who better the lives of Southern constituents. Northern NGOs also represent and appreciate their donors and supporters as active, energetic, willing and generous ‘do-gooders’ in the development project. The varied and diverse representations not only question the seemingly neutral and objective role of the annual report, but also compromise the principles of dignity, respect, equity, solidarity and egalitarianism that are immanent to development NGOs.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 1045-2354
Date of Acceptance: 2 June 2018
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2022 14:05

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