Individual responses to competing accountability pressures in hybrid organisations: The case of an English business school

Florian Gebreiter, Nunung Nurul Hidayah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine conflicting institutional demands on individual frontline employees in hybrid public sector organisations. Specifically, it examines the competing accountability pressures professional and commercial logics exerted on academics at a business school, how individual lecturers responded to such pressures, and what drove these responses. Design/methodology/approach: The paper draws on a case study of an English business school and is informed by the literatures on institutional logics and hybrid organisations. Findings: The paper shows that the co-existence of professional and commercial logics at the case organisation exerted competing accountability pressures on lecturers. It moreover shows that sometimes deliberately and purposefully, sometimes ad hoc or even coincidentally, lecturers drew on a wide range of responses to these conflicting pressures, including compliance, defiance, combination and compartmentalisation. Originality/value: The paper sheds light on individual level responses to competing institutional logics and associated accountability pressures, as well as on their drivers. It also highlights the drawbacks of user, customer or citizen accountability mechanisms, showing that a strong emphasis on them in knowledge-intensive public organisations can have severe dysfunctional effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)727-749
Number of pages23
JournalAccounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Issue number3
Early online date18 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

© Florian Gebreiter and Nunung Nurul Hidayah 2019
Published by Emerald Publishing Limited
Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article (for both commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence may be seen at


  • Customer accountability
  • Higher education
  • Hybrid accountability
  • Hybrid organization
  • Institutional logics
  • New public management


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