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The role of management accounting practices as facilitators of the environmental management: Evidence from EMAS organisations

Esther Albelda (Pablo Olavide University, Seville, Spain)

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal

ISSN: 2040-8021

Article publication date: 30 August 2011

Abstract

Purpose

The paper aims to explore the role of management accounting practices as facilitators of the environmental management.

Design/methodology/approach

A qualitative study involving semi‐structured interviews with environmental and accounting managers from six Spanish factories has been carried out to analyse how four management accounting practices commonly used at operational level – investment appraisals, costing systems, budgets and performance measures – may reinforce the environmental management and guarantee the maintenance of an environmental management system according to the European Community's Eco‐Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS).

Findings

The analysis suggests that management accounting practices operate as a facilitator mechanism for the environmental management by reinforcing the four EMAS significant elements: commitment to the continual improvement of the environmental performance; compliance with environmental legislation; communication with interested parties; and employee involvement. However, evidence seems to support business case arguments since accounting serves a double function: as a facilitator for the environmental management, and as a barrier for a further accountability‐based environmental management.

Research limitations/implications

The study has been developed at plan level, but the influence of the top management might be analysed as well in order to explore how these management accounting practices are translated into upper organisational level.

Practical implications

The analysis helps to understand the complex nature of the business case as different nuances are identified when considering the different practices.

Originality/value

The paper shows how linked to business case arguments, small arena for internal and for external accountability are emerging.

Keywords

Citation

Albelda, E. (2011), "The role of management accounting practices as facilitators of the environmental management: Evidence from EMAS organisations", Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 76-100. https://doi.org/10.1108/20408021111162137

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited