It might never happen, or will it? The process of rendering (un)accountability in the deep-sea oil exploration arena
Purpose – This paper seeks to explore the diverse expectations and manifestations of accountability for risk in the deep sea petroleum exploration arena of Aotearoa New Zealand. Methodology – The arena framework developed by Renn (1992) and applied to accountability research by Georgakopoulos and Thomson (2008) is implemented and developed, and informed by interviews with key actors in the arena. Findings –Actors perceive accountability for risk to come down to process. Accountability for risk is about providing an account for actions, past, present and future; a forum to debate this account; and a consideration of the Other in decision making. It was also found that diverse understandings of responsibility, including the Māori guardianship value of kaitiakitanga, can inform decision making and challenge existing interpretations of corporate and public responsibility. Originality/value – Aotearoa New Zealand is a country built around an official ‘partnership’ arrangement between the Government of New Zealand and Māori, and exploring this provides unique insights for accountability relationships. This is enhanced by examining a novel and controversial activity, deep sea petroleum exploration. The ability to participate in decision-making, the forum for the account, was more important for actors than the account itself. This research has also given ‘voice’ to actors not often considered in accounting research and policy-making and has thus uncovered a novel understanding of ‘accountability for risk’ in a conflict arena.