Accounting for Business Sustainability: An Overview
24 Pages Posted: 12 May 2011
Date Written: May 1, 2011
One of the major challenges faced in the area of accounting for sustainability is the complexity and uncertainty of the subject matter, beginning with the lack of a clearly understood definition of sustainable development (SD) (Herath & Gamini, 2005). In most of the literature, SD is defined as "integrating the economic, social and environmental objectives of society, in order to maximize human well-being in the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs" (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 2001, p.11; Pyle & Forrant, 2002, p.3).
From the perspective of quality of human life, three dimensions could be considered: economic, ecological, and social (human). From this perspective, the economic criteria could focus on the maintenance of a constant stream of income. This aspect of economic or income sustainability is one of the important measures of SD that can be achieved through the implementation of the concept of environmental management accounting (EMA), however, as argued in this paper, it is still ignored.
By taking an overview through the literature of accounting for business sustainability, the outcome of this paper indicates that the majority of literature on the financial or economic aspects of business sustainability focuses on the cost side and how to measure it either in monetary units or in non-monetary units while totally neglecting the revenue side either for business, environment, or society.
Keywords: sustainable development accounting, environmental management accounting, income sustainability measurement, EMA methodology
JEL Classification: M41, M49
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation