Progress: Engaging With Organisations in Pursuit of Improved Sustainability Accounting and Performance

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Forthcoming. DOI:10.1108/AAAJ-03-2018-3399

Posted: 18 Nov 2019

See all articles by Carol A Adams

Carol A Adams

Durham University Business School

Carlos Larrinaga

University of Burgos

Date Written: November 7, 2018


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to review the development of engagement research in pursuit of improved sustainability accounting and performance and to identify issues in the further development of this field. In particular, we consider the implications of this research for practice, policy and theory following the publication of a special issue on the topic in 2007 in the Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal.

Approach – We performed a systematic review of the relevant literature in selected accounting journals for the eleven year period 2007 to 2017 inclusive. We identified the methods, topics and theories addressed by researchers and the academic journals that are more likely to publish engagement research.

Findings – We found a significant increase in engagement work over the decade since publication of the special issue and a marked increase in the volume and complexity of data collected in studies. There is a marked difference in the openness of different journals to engagement research and the type of engagement research published across accounting journals. Contrary to the argument made by critics of engagement research we found that this field of research not only uses theory, but develops theory.

Research implications – Through our examination of methods and theories used and topics considered we identify avenues for further research – and the journals likely to be receptive to it.

Practical implications – The study demonstrates that the collective body of engagement research aimed at improving sustainability accounting and performance has significant potential to inform practice and policy developments with the same aim.

Originality/value – The study examines an emerging approach in an emerging field of research with significant academic, practice and policy potential.

Suggested Citation

Adams, Carol A and Larrinaga, Carlos, Progress: Engaging With Organisations in Pursuit of Improved Sustainability Accounting and Performance (November 7, 2018). Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Forthcoming. DOI:10.1108/AAAJ-03-2018-3399, Available at SSRN:

Carol A Adams (Contact Author)

Durham University Business School ( email )

Old Elvet
Mill Hill Lane
Durham, Durham DH1 3HP
United Kingdom
1913345200 (Phone)

Carlos Larrinaga

University of Burgos ( email )

Plaza Infanta Elena
E09001 Burgos

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