Marching with the Volunteers: Their Role and Impact on Beneficiary Accountability in an Indonesian NGO

Dewi, Miranti, Manochin, Melina M and Belal, Ataur R (2019). Marching with the Volunteers: Their Role and Impact on Beneficiary Accountability in an Indonesian NGO. Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal ,


The main purpose of this paper is to examine the role of volunteers and its impact on related accountability practices towards beneficiaries by a large humanitarian Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) in Indonesia. We have adopted a qualitative case study design. Our empirical evidence comes from rich fieldwork carried out in an Indonesian NGO. We have collected the evidence mainly via 46 interviews and five focus groups. We have found that our case NGO drew heavily on the social and cultural capitals of volunteers in the process of serving its beneficiaries, which in turn facilitated the enhancement of its accountability to the beneficiaries. We have also found that volunteers play a bridging role to reduce the distance between NGOs and beneficiaries. For NGO managers this study provides necessary empirical evidence on the positive role played by the volunteers in the development and operationalisation of accountability to the beneficiaries. In our case, beneficiary accountability is enhanced by the social conduct and practices performed by the NGO’s numerous volunteers. Beneficiary accountability is of significant concern to the policy makers too. This study shows that volunteers and NGO can work in a reciprocal relationship where social and cultural capital can be mobilised to each other’s advantage. To facilitate beneficiary accountability, NGOs can draw on the socio-cultural capitals held by the volunteers who appear to share the same norms and expectations with the beneficiaries. This process can also lead to the building of social and cultural capital by the volunteers themselves as they achieve great satisfaction and gain valuable experience in this process that could lead to greater satisfaction in their spiritual and material lives. We extend the previous literature on beneficiary accountability by highlighting the under-researched role of volunteers in such accountability practices. In this paper, we first discuss the facilitating role of volunteers in enhancing NGOs’ accountability towards beneficiaries. We then proceed to illustrate this empirically. In addition, we argue that although Bourdieusian concepts like field and capital have been widely used in the analysis of various organisational practices the concept of habitus received limited attention particularly from the context of developing countries. We undertake an examination of the habitus of volunteers in our Indonesian case organisation and explore their linkages with the field and associated capitals.

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Divisions: Aston Business School > Accounting
Aston Business School > Accounting Research Group
Aston Business School
Additional Information: © Emerald Publishing Limited 2019 Published by Emerald Publishing Limited Licensed re-use rights only
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Related URLs: https://www.eme ... AJ-10-2016-2727 (Publisher URL)
Accepted Date: 2018-11-21
Published Online Date: 2019-05-25
Authors: Dewi, Miranti
Manochin, Melina M ( 0000-0003-2730-5587)
Belal, Ataur R ( 0000-0001-6144-8907)



Version: Accepted Version

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