International advocacy NGOs, counter accounting, accountability and engagement

Ian Thomson, Mercy Denedo, Akira Yonekura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)
520 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose – This paper explores how and why international advocacy NGOs use counter accounting as part of their campaigns against oil companies operating in the Niger Delta to reform problematic regulatory systems and make visible corporate practices that exploit governance and accountability gaps in relation to human rights violations and environmental damage.

Design/Methodology/Approach – This arena study draws on different sources of evidence, including interviews with 9 international advocacy NGOs representatives involved in campaigns in the Niger Delta. We mapped out the history of the conflict in order to locate and make sense of our interviewees’ views on counter accounting, campaigning strategies, accountability and governance gaps as well as their motivations and aspirations for change.

Findings – Our evidence revealed an inability of vulnerable communities to engage in relevant governance systems, due to unequal power relationships, corporate actions and ineffective governance practices. NGOs used counter accounts as part of their campaigns to change corporate practices, reform governance systems and address power imbalances. Counter accounts made visible problematic actions to those with power over those causing harm, gave voice to indigenous communities and pressured the Nigerian government to reform their governance processes.

Practical implications – Understanding the intentions, desired outcomes and limitations of NGO’s use of counter accounting could influence human rights accountability and governance reforms in political institutions, public sector organisations, NGOs and corporations, especially in developing countries.

Originality/Value –This paper seeks to contribute to accounting research that seeks to protect the wealth and natural endowments of indigenous communities to enhance their life experience.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1309-1343
JournalAccounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 21 Aug 2017


  • ’International Advocacy NGOs, Counter Accounting, Accountability and Engagement
  • Dialogic Accountability
  • Governance
  • Advocacy NGOs
  • human rights and sustainable development
  • Nigeria


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