Navigating Accountability Demands: Ceremonial Adoption and Implementation in National Disaster Risk Reduction Policy Reporting, 2005-2015  

Prior research has shown how decoupling, as a response to institutional pressures, enables organizations to enhance their legitimacy, while eschewing the costs, conflicts, and complexity of implementing policies. Yet, as institutional pressures increasingly incorporate accountability demands, organizations need to report public progress on implementation, and it is unclear how organizations navigate these demands. How organizations respond to accountability demands matters, as it shapes how policies get their practices implemented and create their intended outcomes. By studying the country-level reporting of a United Nations disaster preparedness policy, we test why and how organizations’ socio-historical embeddedness influences policy adoption, as well as how and why organizations repurpose existing practices to implement policies. Our study makes two primary contributions around the socio-historical relations shaping policy adoption and the substitutive decoupling process resulting in ceremonial implementation, which bear policymaking implications for the understanding of how reporting is used in accountability-based policies.