Natural Resource Governance, Accountability and Legitimising Propensity: Insights from Ghana’s Oil and Gas Sector

Emmanuel Asare, Bruce Burton, Theresa Dunne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This study explores Ghanaian views about accountability discharge by firms and government in the context of the nation's newly discovered oil and gas resources. The research focusses on a range of issues relating to stakeholder interaction, communication flows and the impact of decision-making on Ghanaian lives, as perceived by individuals on the ground. Design/methodology/approach: The paper adapts elements of legitimacy theory to interpret the outcome of a series of semi-structured interviews with members of key accountee and accountor groups including citizens and representatives of the state and private firms in the oil and gas industry in Ghana. Findings: The results indicate that rather than attempting to effect substantive accountability discharge, Ghana's government and oil and gas firms employ a wide range of legitimation strategies despite the apparently complete absence of the accountee power normally seen as driving the need for social contract repair. Research limitations/implications: The findings suggest that accountability discharge in Ghana is cursory at best, with several legitimising strategies in evidence. The representatives from state institutions appear to share some of the concerns, suggesting that the problems are entrenched and will require robust enforcement of a strengthened regulatory approach to effect meaningful change. Originality/value: This paper contributes to the literature on the discharge of institutional accountability by building on earlier conceptualisations of legitimacy theory to explore perceptions around a recent natural resource discovery. The analysis highlights grave concerns regarding the behaviour of state and corporate actors, one that runs counter to sub-Saharan African tradition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)509-532
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Accounting in Emerging Economies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2021


  • Accountability
  • Ghana
  • Legitimacy
  • Natural resource governance
  • Oil and gas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science


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