Engaging with Organisations in Pursuit of Improved Sustainability Accounting and Performance
Posted: 11 Dec 2008
Date Written: December 9, 2008
Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to present a case for research in ethical, social and environmental (or sustainability) accounting and accountability which engages with those organisations claiming to manage and report their sustainability performance. In addition, the paper reviews the contributions in this special issue. Design/methodology/approach - The paper provides an analysis and critique of the extent of engagement research in the field of sustainability accounting and accountability. It draws on the fields of management, management accounting and critical accounting to present a case for further research engagement with sustainability accounting and accountability practice.
Findings - The paper finds that the extant literature in the field of sustainability accounting and reporting, in contrast to the fields of management accounting and management, has largely ignored practice within organisations. The lack of 'engaging research' is found to be due to concerns about increasing the breadth of participants in the social accounting agenda and 'managerial capture'. The paper argues that further research engaging with organisations is needed in order to identify how accounting and management systems might reduce their negative sustainability impacts. The paper argues that such research can benefit from the methodological and theoretical insights of other disciplines.
Research limitations/implications - The paper suggests where further contributions might be made by future research endeavours engaging with organisations.
Practical implications - Engagement research in sustainability accounting and reporting has the potential to improve theorizing, practice and the sustainability performance of organisations. Originality/value - Drawing on the methods and theories of other disciplines and the papers in the special issue, the paper presents a way forward for researchers engaging with organisations practicing sustainability accounting and reporting.
Keywords: Accountability, Ethical, social and environmental accounting, Engagement, Institutional theory, Research methods, Sustainability performance, Sustainability reporting
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