Carbon Management Accounting and Reporting in Practice: A Case Study on Converging Emergent Approaches

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, Vol. 6 Iss: 3, pp.340 - 365

44 Pages Posted: 11 Jan 2015 Last revised: 1 Aug 2019

See all articles by Delphine Gibassier

Delphine Gibassier

Audencia Business School

Stefan Schaltegger

Leuphana University of Lueneburg

Date Written: July 25, 2015

Abstract

Purpose: In contrast to the reporting, stakeholder and regulatory focus, company-internal issues of carbon accounting have so far rarely been investigated in depth. This case study focuses on carbon accounting, as one aspect of accounting for impacts on the environmental capital and details the “convergence” process between two emergent corporate carbon management accounting approaches within a multinational company. Based on a qualitative analysis of this in-depth case study, we raise questions about what could be considered an effective carbon management accounting system.

Design/methodology/approach: The research has been conducted with an in-depth case study, using participant observation (Spradley, 1980). We follow a pragmatic research approach and the proposal of Malmi and Granlund (2009) “to create theories useful for practice is to solve practical problems with practitioners and synthesize the novel solutions to a more general form”.

Findings: This case study demonstrates that it is possible to connect two corporate carbon management accounting approaches focusing on products and the organization into a combined carbon management accounting system. This has potential impact in making carbon management accounting in organizations leaner, and more efficient in terms of performance measurement and external communication.

Research limitations/implications: This research is based on a single case study and more case studies in different industries could highlight further practical implementation difficulties and approaches to overcome.

Practical implications: This paper unveils that different carbon management accounting approaches can emerge in parallel in the same corporation. The paper discusses possibilities and challenges to converge them in terms of methodology (emission factors for example) and/or in terms of information systems, on which the calculations are based.

Originality/value: This is, to our knowledge, the first case study of an organization explicitly acknowledging the existence of multiple emerged carbon management accounting approaches and trying to make sense of them in a convergence process to create an overarching carbon accounting system.

Keywords: Carbon accounting, convergence, GHG Protocol, PAS 2050, carbon management accounting

JEL Classification: M00, M14, M40

Suggested Citation

Gibassier, Delphine and Schaltegger, Stefan, Carbon Management Accounting and Reporting in Practice: A Case Study on Converging Emergent Approaches (July 25, 2015). Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, Vol. 6 Iss: 3, pp.340 - 365. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2547797

Delphine Gibassier (Contact Author)

Audencia Business School ( email )

8 Road Joneliere
BP 31222
Nantes Cedex 3, 44312
France

Stefan Schaltegger

Leuphana University of Lueneburg ( email )

Scharnhorststraße 1
Lüneburg, 21335
Germany

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