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Crossing disciplines: Exploring the contribution of a critical futures approach to democratising community engagement with a focus on the gas industry

Marcelle Holdaway (Sustainability Research Centre, University of the Sunshine Coast, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia)

Pacific Accounting Review

ISSN: 0114-0582

Article publication date: 18 March 2019

Issue publication date: 18 March 2019

Abstract

Purpose

Social and environmental accountability by firms can be compromised by a lack of democracy within community engagement and decision-making processes. This is particularly evident in potential conflict situations such as with unconventional gas (UCG) extraction. Dialogic engagement sits within dialogic accounting theory and offers a potentially valuable contribution to democratisation. This study aims to contribute to dialogic engagement as practice through the application of critical futures theory and methodology, causal layered analysis (CLA).

Design/methodology/approach

CLA was applied in field research firstly in interviews and then in a workshop setting involving participants with diverse perspectives on UCG. The workshop was planned around activities designed to: implement dialogic engagement as practice, critically unpack views on the present and future of UCG and energy needs through CLA; and evaluate the usefulness of the methodology.

Findings

Findings suggest that CLA enables access to multiple, complex and nuanced perspectives and facilitates, a deeper understanding of participants own views and of other differing views in relation to UCG, 1) a deeper understanding of participants own views, and of other differing views in relation to UCG, 2) a deeper analysis in the identification of key themes in discussions around UCG, and, 3) the identification by participants of “preferred futures” and “uncertainties” concerning energy needs.

Practical implications

CLA is a valuable tool for undertaking genuine community engagement and has wide-ranging application, one example being with interviews and focus groups. Moreover, with the inclusion of diverse perspectives, options and solutions emerging for consideration are increased. This in turn provides opportunities for creative decision-making through scenario identification and strategic development that potentially give rise to transformative possibilities.

Social implications

CLA may well assist in moving firms, and indeed civil society, closer to reaching preferable social and environmental outcomes.

Originality/value

This cross-disciplinary research applies an innovative approach and methodology, taking democratic engagement to new depths.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Erratum: It has come to the attention of the Publisher that the article “Crossing disciplines: exploring the contribution of a critical futures approach to democratising community engagement with a focus on the gas industry” by Holdaway, M. (2019), Pacific Accounting Review, Vol. 31 No. 1, was published as a regular paper when it should have been included in the special issue “Sustainability accounting” guest edited by Associate Professor Umesh Sharma and Professor Sumit Lodhia, with Consulting Editor Professor Carol Tilt. This error was introduced in the editorial process. The Publisher of the journal Pacific Accounting Review sincerely apologises for this error and for any inconvenience caused.

Thank you to Nichola Cooper for assistance with co-facilitating the workshop and reporting on the activity she facilitated. The author sincerely thanks the participants who took the time to attend and engage in the workshop. Your passionate involvement was a valuable contribution to this endeavour.

Citation

Holdaway, M. (2019), "Crossing disciplines: Exploring the contribution of a critical futures approach to democratising community engagement with a focus on the gas industry", Pacific Accounting Review, Vol. 31 No. 1, pp. 159-180. https://doi.org/10.1108/PAR-11-2017-0093

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited