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Institutional drivers of environmental management accounting adoption in public sector water organisations

Mohammad Imtiaz Ferdous (Central Queensland University, Melbourne, Australia)
Carol A. Adams (Durham University Business School, Durham University, Durham, UK) (Swinburne Business School, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia)
Gordon Boyce (La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia)

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

ISSN: 0951-3574

Article publication date: 31 May 2019

Issue publication date: 18 June 2019



The purpose of this paper is to examine the influences on the adoption of environmental management accounting (EMA) in corporatised water supply organisations, from an institutional theory perspective, drawing on the concepts of reflexive isomorphism and institutional logics.


The primary research involves case analysis of three companies in the Australian water supply industry, drawing on interviews, internal documents and publicly available documents, including annual reports.


Two key drivers for the adoption and emergence of EMA are: the emergence of a government regulator in the form of the Essential Services Commission (ESC) and community expectations with regard to environmental performance and disclosure. The water organisations were found to be reflexively isomorphic, while seeking to align their commercial logic to “sustainability” and “ensuring community expectations” logics to the legitimate adoption of EMA.


The paper contributes to the literature by providing case study evidence of the intentions and motivations of management in adopting EMA, and the nature of that adoption process over an extended period. Further, it provides empirical evidence of the applicability of reflexive isomorphism in the context of EMA and institutional logics.



Imtiaz Ferdous, M., Adams, C.A. and Boyce, G. (2019), "Institutional drivers of environmental management accounting adoption in public sector water organisations", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 32 No. 4, pp. 984-1012.



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