Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore the potential of dialogic accounting and accountability systems in addressing women’s empowerment in the microfinance context, in Bangladesh. There are debates about whether women are actually being empowered through microfinance initiatives, and concerns about the accountability of microfinance institutions. This study examines these controversies, drawing and building on Mayoux (2002) and the work of others on ‘competing logics’ evident in microfinance theory and practice. In recognition of the dominance of economic logics in traditional accounting, it responds to calls to develop more multi-dimensional accountings and ways of operationalising proposals for greater social accountability.
Design: A Participatory Action Research (PAR) case study is undertaken in microfinance NGO in Bangladesh, to evaluate the potentials of dialogic accounting and accountability systems.
Findings: The paper demonstrates how oppressive social and organisational realties could slowly be transformed through creation of dynamic, collaborative and dialogic spaces. The deep, multifaceted interactions, conversations and reflections, which include the structural barriers to and practical needs of women, exemplify the transformative potential of the PAR space created in the context of the case study.
Originality: This paper contributes to the literature on dialogic accounting theory and practice, and thereby helps advance this relatively new branch in Social and Environmental Accounting (SEA).