To read this content please select one of the options below:

Strong structuration and carbon accounting: A position-practice perspective of policy development at the macro, industry and organizational levels

David R.J. Moore (College of Business, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia)
Ken McPhail (Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK)

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

ISSN: 0951-3574

Article publication date: 19 September 2016

1674

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to utilize the three abstract-concrete levels of ontology of strong structuration theory (strong ST) to examine how, and to what extent, was the development of carbon accounting frameworks at the policy, industry, and organizational levels enabled by external structures as conditions of action, that is, what was the nature of active agency within a field of position-practice relations that led to the development of these frameworks.

Design/methodology/approach

A case study was undertaken drawing upon interviews that were undertaken between 2008 and 2011 at the industry and organizational levels as well as documentary evidence relating to carbon accounting policy development at the macro, or policy level.

Findings

The parliamentary committee hearings into the development of the carbon price legislation represented fields of position-practice relationships which highlighted the interplay of the internal structures, capabilities and the roles of both power and trust of the agent(s)-in-focus. A meso-level analysis of the Victorian water industry highlighted how it was able to mediate the exercise of power by the macro level through the early adoption of carbon accounting frameworks. At the ontic or micro level of the individual water business, the development of a greenhouse strategy was also the outcome of position-practice relationships which highlighted the interplay of the internal structures and dispositions of the agent(s)-in-focus. The position-practice relationships at both the industry and organizational level were characterized by both soft power and trust.

Research limitations/implications

Future research could investigate how the withdrawal of the carbon pricing mechanism in Australia has affected the development of carbon accounting practices whilst overseas research could examine the extent to which carbon accounting frameworks were the outcome of position-practice relationships.

Practical implications

Given the global significance of carbon accounting, this paper provides an overview as to how the early adoption of voluntary carbon accounting practices resulted in a reduction in carbon emissions within the water industry and therefore limited its liability for the carbon price.

Originality/value

This paper illustrates how the strong ST ontological concept of position-practices can be utilized at the macro, meso, and ontic levels and how these relationships mediated the impact of the carbon price upon both the water industry and the individual water business.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors gratefully acknowledge the invaluable advice and support of Lisa Jack throughout the review process. The authors would also like to thank the two anonymous reviewers for their helpful and constructive comments as well as Helen Yang, Victoria University, for informing them of the call for papers for this special issue.

Citation

Moore, D.R.J. and McPhail, K. (2016), "Strong structuration and carbon accounting: A position-practice perspective of policy development at the macro, industry and organizational levels", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 29 No. 7, pp. 1204-1233. https://doi.org/10.1108/AAAJ-08-2015-2203

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles