Styles of verification and the pursuit of organisational repair: the case of social impact

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This paper examines how different varieties of verification can support the pursuit of organisational repair. We present data from a detailed field study of the setting of social impact, drawing on a variety of practitioner perspectives on the purpose, value, and practice of verification. Taking the distinction between a direct and indirect mode of intervention as our starting point, we theorise the differences between a financial audit style of verification and what we label an ‘experiential’ style of verification. We show that an experiential style reconceptualises verification as playing a role in learning about and improving on the delivery of social impact within organisations rather than a primary concern with assuaging external report users. Experiential verification values the situated knowledge of those deeply immersed in social impact above the attributes of independence, reputation or credentialled expertise, and is predicated on providing unmediated access to the subject of verification rather than verifying a measurable reality. A focus on verification for organisational repair has implications for whose wisdom counts, and points to the possibility of ‘new verification spaces’ focused on caretaking and delivering the public good rather than compliance.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101478
Number of pages17
JournalAccounting, Organizations and Society
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Auditability
  • Assurance
  • Organisational repair
  • Social impact
  • Verification

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