To investigate, analyse and critique contemporary research in social and environmental accounting.
An analysis and critique of the social and environmental accountability (SEA) research field since the late 1980s. The study revisits two key prior seminal papers on the field, examines the remit for SEA researchers' focus on practice and policy and offers an empirical analysis of the profile of SEA publication.
Theories are identified in two groups: augmentation and heartland theories. These have been more deductively than inductively generated, evidencing limited attention to field‐based engagement. An alternative to the elusive all‐embracing unitary SEA theory is presented. Researchers' concerns with capture of the SEA field is critiqued and an alternative researcher engagement orientation is offered. Environmental research dominates more recent SEA published output, the dominant methodological approach is literature‐based theorising, and national practices/comparisons and regulations are leading topic areas occupying researchers.
Analysis of publishing patterns including the balance between social and environmental accountability research, research methodologies employed and SEA topics addressed is largely confined to four leading interdisciplinary accounting research journals.
The paper argues for greater SEA researcher engagement with SEA practice and involvement in SEA policy contributions.
The paper offers a contemporary assemblage and critique of the multiple theoretical perspectives applied to the SEA field and offers insights into the range and predominance of research methods and topics within the published SEA field.
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