How Does Environmental Accounting Information Influence Attention and Investment?
Hank C. Alewine
University of Alabama in Huntsville - College of Business Administration
Dan N. Stone
University of Kentucky - Von Allmen School of Accountancy
December 7, 2009
Purpose: Environmental consequences increasingly influence management strategy and choice. This study investigates the effects on attention and investment of: (a) incorporating environmental data into a balanced scorecard (BSC), called the sustainability balanced score card (SBSC), and, (b) the organization of environmental accounting information.
Design/method/approach: In a between-participant design, participants (n ≈ 95) chose from among two investments using BSCs. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: (a) no environmental data (control or BSC condition), (b) environmental data embedded within the traditional BSC (four-perspective SBSC) or (c) environmental data added to a BSC as a standalone fifth perspective (five-perspective SBSC).
Findings: Environmentally friendly investment was greater with the four-perspective SBSC than the traditional BSC. In addition, participants were most efficient, i.e., spent the least total time, and least time per data element examined, with the four-perspective SBSC. Finally, the time spent examining, and decision weight given to, environmental data were uncorrelated.
Research limitations/implications: Professional managers and accountants may have greater knowledge of environmental metrics than do students, who are the participants in this study; greater knowledge of environmental metrics may lessen the extent of display effects on judgments; hence, the results may not generalize to knowledgeable professionals. Future research can test this speculation by exploring the influence of knowledge on judgments in this context.
Practical implications: The form (i.e., organization) of environmental accounting data changed the allocation of attention while the presence of environmental accounting data changed participants’ investments; hence, both the presence, and form, of environmental accounting information matters.
Originality/value: This study is among the first to show differing influences from both the presence and organization of environmental accounting data on attention and investment.
Category: Research paper.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 44
Keywords: Sustainability Balanced Scorecard, Environmental Accounting, Ecological Accounting, Investment Decision Making, Decision Making Strategies, Data Quality
JEL Classification: M46working papers series
Date posted: June 16, 2009 ; Last revised: September 5, 2010
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