Threats to the New Zealand Serious Fraud Office: an institutional perspective

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to evaluate threats to dissolve the New Zealand Serious Fraud Office (SFO) as interpreted through the public press. Design/methodology/approach – An institutional approach is adopted in this case, and the analysis is driven by Oliver's understandings of antecedents to deinstitutionalization. Relevant press articles are reviewed, and SFO history and New Zealand socio-political context inform the analysis. Findings – The paper identifies over 1,800 articles (September 2003 to October 2008) and analyses the content of those 157 that contain views on the SFO itself. This analysis reveals that while there is a strong political antecedent to the proposed change, the media is dominated by weakly evidenced but emotive functional and social arguments. The susceptibility of the SFO to political influence, and a less-than-fully engaged media, is shown to provide a risk of deinstitutionalization to this politically dependent office. Research limitations/implications – Conclusions suggest how a relatively new and possibly politically naïve organisation may be, by necessity, starting to come to terms with its own external dependencies. Social implications – The SFO may be evolving new relational norms in response to its own vulnerabilities in a political environment. There may be lessons for others in this analysis of a norming process, and further research into such processes would be a rich area for further study. Originality/value – The contribution is in forming an understanding of the media patterns and in analysing what they convey as to the threatened deinstituitonalization of the SFO.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Van Peursem, K.A. & Balme, A. (2010). Threats to the New Zealand Serious Fraud Office: an institutional perspective. Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, 7(3), 304-328.