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A project for Romania? The role of the civil society’s counter-accounts in facilitating democratic change in society

Oana Mihaela Apostol (Department of Accounting and Finance, University of Turku, Turku, Finland)

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

ISSN: 0951-3574

Article publication date: 16 February 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to look more closely, in the context of a given case study, at the role of civil society’s counter-accounts in facilitating democratic change in society, as an essential goal of an emancipatory and radical social accounting project.

Design/methodology/approach

A case study of a Canadian company’s plans to open a gold mine in western Romania is here analysed. Civil society’s opposition to the mining project gave rise to an unprecedented social movement contesting the project’s utility for Romanian society. The role played by counter-accounts produced by civil society groups is investigated.

Findings

Counter-accounts produced by civil society played multiple roles in the case study analysed. First, counter-accounts indicated the failure of corporate reports to present the gold mining project in a balanced manner. Second, counter-accounts were successful in problematizing the corporate approach to addressing the social, cultural and environmental impacts of the project, while also nurturing societal debate on these issues. Third, counter-accounts exposed the ideological inclinations of state institutions to favour economic interests over the social, cultural and environmental ones. As a result of these contributions, even if the counter-accounts were subjective, this study claims that they form a good basis for the development of emancipatory accounting.

Research limitations/implications

Limitations associated with an interpretative approach and case study research apply.

Originality/value

The paper illustrates the potential of civil society’s counter accounts to enable societal debates, as means towards democratic, transformative change.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The author wishes to thank Matias Laine, Alina Pop and Lauri Lepistö and the two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments. The participants at the 32nd EAA Annual Congress in Tampere, May 2009, at the 21st CSEAR Summer School in Saint Andrews, September 2009, at the internal seminar of Research Collegium at the Institute for Advanced Social Research in April 2012, at the RespMan research seminar in February 2013 are also thanked for their comments on earlier versions of the paper. The author is also grateful to Marjukka Virkajärvi for helping with the English language. Financial support has been kindly provided by the former Department of Economics and Accounting of the University of Tampere, the Institute for Advanced Social Research at the University of Tampere, the Graduate School of Accounting, Turku School of Economics and The Foundation for Economic Education.

Citation

Apostol, O.M. (2015), "A project for Romania? The role of the civil society’s counter-accounts in facilitating democratic change in society", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 28 No. 2, pp. 210-241. https://doi.org/10.1108/AAAJ-07-2012-01057

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited