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Centre for Building Sustainable Value

Nathania Chua

ESADE Business School, Spain

Holding power to account: A virtual ethnography of collective action towards government accountability in the COVID-19 crisis



The COVID-19 crisis of 2020 challenged governments around the world to quickly coordinate departments and institutions to effectively mitigate the serious health, economic and social damage caused by the pandemic. With emergency powers granted to governments, opportunities for corruption arose and hence, accountability and transparency became even more essential to save not only resources but lives. Through a virtual ethnography, I look at the case of the Philippines, wherein the inconsistency of the allocation and spending of public funds to address the pandemic became a pressing issue, amidst a rapidly evolving political landscape. I follow a citizen initiative that campaigned for better governance and organized with the objective of ensuring responsibility and transparency of the public budget. Answering the question, “How does collective action organize for accountability in a crisis?” I aim to contribute to the collective action literature by establishing a framework for how actors collaborate and coordinate to hold power to account.


Nathania Chua is a PhD candidate in Management Sciences of the Department of Society, Politics & Sustainaility at ESADE Business School, where she also obtained her MRes in Management Sciences. She is passionate about doing qualitative research in organization studies that is deeply relevant to society, especially marginalized communities. Her research is at the intersection of organization studies, management education and social innovation with particular interests in collective action and identity work. Using ethnographic approaches, she immerses herself in various contexts such as service-learning experiences wherein business students collaborate with communities around the world to make an impact, and situations of crisis observing how citizens have organized towards demanding accountability in the COVID- 19 pandemic. Before pursuing her PhD, she was an instructor at her alma mater Ateneo de Manila University, under the Quantitative Methods and Information Technology Department of the John Gokongwei School of Management. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Management, with a minor in Music Literature.

Nathania Chua

Nathania Chua