Reading NGO accountability with Botanski and Thévenot: Evidence from a Sri Lankan NGO

Chandana Gnanapriya Alawattage, Danture Wickramasinghe, Anula Tennakoon

Research output: Contribution to conferenceUnpublished paperpeer-review


This paper develops a conception of accountability, drawing on Botanski and Thévenot’s (1987, 2006) ideas about “orders of worth”. It examines how accountability is enlisted in organizational transformation. Based on ethnographic and historical accounts of a Sri Lankan development NGO, the paper illustrates how a postcolonial order of worth was used to critique its colonial predecessor and to justify a social form of accountability. This led to the formation of a grassroots civil society organization that promoted a development regime of collective labor. The paper also looks at how a subsequent neocolonial order of worth was then used to critique its postcolonial predecessor and to justify an eclectic form of accountability. This led to a transformation of the grassroots civil society organization into an NGO that promoted a neoliberal development regime based on entrepreneurship and social capital. Rather than trying to construct typologies of accountability on the basis of differences in organizational forms, this research argues that the notion of accountability can be used as a framework to analyze social and organizational transformation.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusSubmitted - 2016

Bibliographical note

Under review in Accounting, Organisations and Society


  • accountability
  • neo-colonial order
  • NGO
  • orders of worth
  • organizational transformation
  • postcolonial order
  • Sarvodaya
  • Sri Lanka


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