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Environmental accounting and state power in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany (1537–1621)

Michele Bigoni (Kent Business School, University of Kent, Canterbury, UK)
Simone Lazzini (Department of Economics and Management, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy)
Zeila Occhipinti (Department of Economics and Management, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy)
Roberto Verona (Department of Economics and Management, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy)

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

ISSN: 0951-3574

Article publication date: 22 December 2022

40

Abstract

Purpose

The study investigates the use of early forms of environmental accounting in the implementation of environmental strategies in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany between the 16th and 17th centuries.

Design/methodology/approach

The study adopts the Foucauldian concept of raison d’État to shed light on the ways in which environmental accounting practices were used by Tuscan Grand Dukes to form a detailed knowledge of the territory to be governed and act accordingly.

Findings

Financial and non-financial information relating to environmental issues enabled the Grand Dukes to “visualise” the territory to be managed as an enclosed disciplinary space whereby the conduct of people living therein could be decisively influenced. Accounting practices as a tool for the implementation of environmental strategies did not merely aim to protect the environment but were a means to reinforce the power of the State.

Research limitations/implications

The paper can inform future works that investigate the ways in which environmental policies and accounting are used to pursue far-reaching governmental goals. It encourages scholars to examine further the origins of environmental accounting and its early forms.

Social implications

The study documents how environmental strategies and the related use of accounting can have a significant influence on how individuals are allowed to conduct themselves. It also shows that environmental accounting practices can be an important tool in a State’s machinery of power.

Originality/value

The study offers a novel perspective on the use of environmental accounting information as a tool in the exercise of State power. It explores explicitly the interrelations between accounting, sustainability and power. It also adds new evidence to historical research that has engaged with early forms of environmental accounting.

Keywords

Citation

Bigoni, M., Lazzini, S., Occhipinti, Z. and Verona, R. (2022), "Environmental accounting and state power in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany (1537–1621)", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/AAAJ-12-2021-5572

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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