Professional Norms in African Contexts: The forgotten dimension in development theory
Western theories and Western practices have been claimed to not be appropriate in African con-texts. The reasons are argued to be a lack of legitimacy for the practices among public officials in these countries, as well as a lack of empirical studies of the theories outside the West. Using governmental audit as an area of public administration reform, the paper presents a study of African public audit arenas and the supreme audit institutions in Namibia and Botswana, where these arguments are tested. The field work conducted consists of observations, interviews and document studies. The results demonstrates how professional norms and imitation which has been found to substantially influence professional public officials in Western countries, also play a significant role among African public auditors. African public auditors hold a distinct professional identity, which goes beyond national borders, and they continuously reform their organizations to achieve higher compliance with international requirements of auditing, also in disapproval with domestic politics. The results contrast to much in the contemporary literature describing African public officials and provides new insights on how to understand public sector reform in Africa.
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