Social enterprise resisting social accounting: reflecting on lived experiences

Jane Gibbon (Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)
Arthur Affleck (Social Enterprise Tyneside, Lynnwood Business Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)

Social Enterprise Journal

ISSN: 1750-8614

Publication date: 8 February 2008



The advantages of using social accounting (SA) by social enterprises are widely evident (e.g. Social Audit Network, New Economics Foundation). The data gathered by the authors, through introductory SA workshops and training attended by 30 organisations and a single case study, are used with the purpose of demonstrating that the barriers and resistance to SA are widespread.


The paper focuses upon the analysis of the lived experiences of SA discussed by 31 workshop participants and the more detailed experience of one participant organisation over two years. An action research approach was used across the training project, with insider action research used with the single case organisation.


The research develops a deeper understanding of the issues (real and perceived) surrounding the barriers and resistance to SA, how they could be overcome and leads to the formulation of mechanisms to address them.

Research limitations/implications

This work is based upon a project working with a sample of social enterprises and gives a view of the lived experiences of practitioners approaching SA for the first time, it does not claim generalisability.

Practical implications

The research is of use to social enterprise practitioners and trainers struggling with decisions as to how to approach SA whilst overcoming barriers and resistance. If SA is appropriate then these insights should aid the development of a “model” of SA that is fitting. It also furthers an understanding around the issues of accountability and value measurement within social enterprise and how this needs to be supported at an organisational and government level.


Understanding of resistance in the context of social enterprise this offers a unique understanding for other social enterprises to reflect upon their own organisation and determine, if SA is suitable for them. If SA is appropriate for their organisation, then these insights should aid the development of a “model” of SA that is fitting for their organisation.



Gibbon, J. and Affleck, A. (2008), "Social enterprise resisting social accounting: reflecting on lived experiences", Social Enterprise Journal, Vol. 4 No. 1, pp. 41-56.

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Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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