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Framing Disability Services Funding and Accountability: The Performativity of Calculative Practices for in NGO Digitalization

Tue, July 12, 2:00 to 3:30pm, TBA


This study examines how reforms to disability services funding produced a significant push for innovation through the adoption of calculative and digitalization practices in the non-governmental organization (NGO) sector. Drawing on the insights from framing, overflowing, and performativity theorized in actor-network theory (ANT), this study analyses interview, focus group and documentary evidence using a qualitative case study approach. The analysis traces the power of reform which framed disability services and accountability, and how this framing overflowed as calculative innovation and digitalization practices. Further, the performativity of other calculative practices (accounting and cost control) excluded performance and accountability through assemblages of human and non-human actors (calculative devices). This cost-driven performativity constructed a new space for disabled persons and reduced the quality of the services they received. Our study offers insights into the counter-productive dangers of innovation and digitalization when they generate calculative practices through accounting and control devices. Here, digitalization promised to be an effective generator of change in service quality in the sector. This study tells a poignant story of how the promise of digitalization acted instead to exclude disabled beneficiaries, elucidating why government reform emphasising innovation and digitalization overflowed differently from the framing’s official objectives. Thus, we contribute to the accounting for disability services literature and understanding of framing/overflowing to conceptualize innovation, digitalization, and performativity insights into how the NGO acted on questions of service quality. These insights can improve NGO practices and assist governments, policymakers and regulators to develop innovation and digitalization related laws, regulations and new technologies that enhance rather than reduce, service quality in the NGO sector.