Where is the Accountability in International Accountability Standards?: A Decoupling Perspective

Business Ethics Quarterly, Vol. 21, No. 1, pp. 45-72, 2011

29 Pages Posted: 13 Mar 2012

See all articles by Michael Behnam

Michael Behnam

Suffolk University

Tammy L. MacLean

Suffolk University - Department of Management

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

A common complaint by academics and practitioners is that the application of international accountability standards (IAS) does not lead to significant improvements in an organization's social responsibility. When organizations espouse their commitment to IAS but do not put forth the effort necessary to operationally enact that commitment, a "credibility cover" is created that perpetuates business as usual. In other words, the legitimacy that organizations gain by formally adopting the standards may shield the organization from closer scrutiny, thus enabling rather than constraining the types of activities the standards were designed to discourage.

There is a lack of research on why certain types of IAS are more prone than others to being decoupled from organizational practices. Applying a neo-institutional perspective to IAS, we theorize that the structural dimensions of the types of standards themselves can increase the likelihood of organizations adopting IAS standards in form but not in function.

Suggested Citation

Behnam, Michael and MacLean, Tammy L, Where is the Accountability in International Accountability Standards?: A Decoupling Perspective (2011). Business Ethics Quarterly, Vol. 21, No. 1, pp. 45-72, 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2019151

Michael Behnam (Contact Author)

Suffolk University ( email )

8 Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108
United States

Tammy L MacLean

Suffolk University - Department of Management ( email )

United States

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