Dr. Kylie Kingston, Queensland University of Technology
Dr. Kylie Kingston

Dr. Kylie Kingston
Lecturer, Faculty of Business and Law, School of Accountancy
Queensland University of Technology

Advancing Beneficiary Accountability Through Research: A Conversation with Dr. Kylie Kingston

Dr. Kylie Kingston, a dedicated lecturer and emerging researcher within the School of Accountancy at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), has been making significant strides in the realm of nonprofit studies. With a rich background spanning two decades in diverse educational settings, Kylie’s journey has been driven by a fervent commitment to improving the conditions of marginalized individuals and stakeholder groups. Her interdisciplinary and collaborative approach has resulted in a body of research that intertwines critical perspectives on accounting, accountability, evaluation, ethics, and education, yielding insights that hold immense value for the nonprofit sector.

Kylie’s journey into academia was shaped by her profound experiences working and volunteering in various nonprofit organizations. She identified a crucial gap in the voices of beneficiaries and their influence within these entities. This realization kindled her interest in pursuing a doctoral degree to delve deeper into beneficiaries’ participation in evaluation, with the aspiration of enhancing their impact within organizations.

Her path led her to QUT, where she continued her pursuit of knowledge and exploration. Having completed a coursework Master of Business at QUT’s Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies (ACPNS), Kylie’s association with the institution kindled her passion for research and set her on a trajectory to become a leading scholar in the field.

Kylie’s recent research paper, “Examining the re-territorialisation of beneficiary accountability: Digitising nonprofit services in response to COVID-19,” delves into the evolving landscape of nonprofit accountability amidst the pandemic. This comprehensive study, conducted through case studies of Australian nonprofit organizations, explored the repercussions of digitizing services in response to the pandemic. The research found that digitalization had both positive and negative impacts on beneficiary accountability, shedding light on the intricate dynamics between technology, service delivery, and stakeholder engagement.

Surprisingly, one organization witnessed an improvement in accountability through digitalization, as it extended access to services for beneficiaries, particularly those in regional areas. In contrast, another organization revealed a longing for the return of face-to-face interactions despite the digital offerings. These findings underscore the importance of considering the diverse needs and preferences of beneficiaries while navigating digital transformations.

Dr. Kingston’s work has far-reaching implications, urging nonprofit organizations to critically assess the consequences of unexpected changes on their beneficiaries and accountability practices. Her dedication to empowering marginalized voices continues as she delves into further research, interviewing older individuals and staff in the Australian aged care sector to refine practices and policies surrounding beneficiary participation in evaluation.

Dr. Kylie Kingston’s trajectory exemplifies the profound impact that dedicated research can have on the nonprofit sector, amplifying the voices of those often unheard and fostering more inclusive and accountable organizational practices. Her commitment to advancing the field through interdisciplinary collaboration and critical inquiry serves as an inspiring model for aspiring academics, researchers, and administrators within the nonprofit domain.

Our full interview with her is below.

Q&A with Dr. Kylie Kingston

What interested you in pursuing a doctoral degree? What interested you in philanthropy and nonprofit related studies? 

My interest in pursuing a doctoral degree arose from my industry experience working and volunteering within a variety of nonprofit orgainsations. Here I noted that beneficiaries frequently had less voice (both verbal or non-verbal) within organisations than other stakeholders, and I was interested in researching ways that might be changed. My doctoral research focused upon beneficiaries’ participation in evaluation as a way of increasing their organisational impact.

What made you decide to attend QUT? How has your experience at QUT influenced or advanced your career path and/or your service to your community?

I chose QUT for my doctoral studies because I had completed a coursework Master of Business at their Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies (ACPNS). Involvement with the ACPNS spurred my interesting gaining research qualifications to become a researcher within this area.

What issues are you passionate about? What’s a big idea you think about?

I am passionate about beneficiaries being listened to and their voices (both verbal and non-verbal) impacting services they receive and organisations they are involved with. I often think about how we can do this better for beneficiaries that are non-human, like animals or the environment.

What would you like to share about your recent research article, “Examining the re-territorialisation of beneficiary accountability: Digitising nonprofit services in response to COVID-19”?

This research focusses upon accountability toward beneficiaries within nonprofit organisations. The research involved case studies within two Australian nonprofit organisations where changes in accountability toward beneficiaries, in response to the digitalisation of services during the COVID-19 pandemic, where noted. We explored the impact of these digitalised changes upon beneficiaries as we wanted to understand if beneficiary accountability was improved or hindered during this period.

Our findings revealed unexpected results, where accountability was improved within one organisation where online services enabled more beneficiaries, particularly those living within regional areas, to be able to access services. Here beneficiaries hoped that newly digitalised services would continue after COVID-19 had ended. Within the other organisation studied, digitalised services allowed beneficiaries to continue their connection to the organisation even when it was shut down due to COVID-19 restrictions. But in contrast, these beneficiaries were eager to return to former face-to-face services as soon as possible.

These findings are relevant to both academic and practitioner audiences, as they highlight both benefits and limitations of digitalising services. The findings encourage nonprofit organisations to reflect upon how they respond to unexpected change (such as that caused by COVID-19) and to seriously consider the impact upon their beneficiaries and accountability relations.

What other research are you working on, and/or what do you hope to research next?

I am currently furthering my PhD findings in relation to beneficiaries’ participation in evaluation through conducting research within the Australian aged care sector. I am interviewing older people using aged care services and staff, to better understand their views on evaluation, and hopefully impact upon practice and policy refinement.

Dr. Kylie Kingston is a lecturer and early career researcher within the QUT School of Accountancy. Her research focuses on exploring ways to improve social and organisational conditions for marginalised people and stakeholder groups. Kylie integrates critical perspectives on accounting, accountability, evaluation, and participation, into organisational practices and policies. Kylie’s research is interdisciplinary and collaborative. She has a 20-year background working in diverse educational settings and engages in research that spans accounting, accountability, evaluation, ethics, and education.