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The influence of Power’s audit society in environmental and sustainability accounting

Jan Bebbington (Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK)
Carlos Larrinaga (Facultad de Ciencias Económicas, Universidad de Burgos, Burgos, Spain)

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management

ISSN: 1176-6093

Article publication date: 11 April 2022




The purpose of this paper is to reflect upon the contribution of the Mike Power’s Audit Society and associated papers from the 1990s to the (then) emerging field of environmental accounting. The paper also looks forward to how these seminal ideas are influenced by accounting in the Anthropocene, as examined in more recent sustainability accounting literature.


This is a reflective essay, drawing from the broad sweep of social, environmental and sustainability accounting literature.


The performativity of accounting and audit, as it pertains to the practices of environmental audit and sustainability reporting, is clearly evident, with Power’s work contributing significantly to this conceptualisation. At the same time, there is also a material dimension to this process. Indeed, distinguishing first and second-order risk (drawing from Power and others) is a critical and ongoing task for sustainability accounting.


We suggest that the Anthropocene offers challenges to the notion of the performativity of audit and reporting.



Bebbington, J. and Larrinaga, C. (2022), "The influence of Power’s audit society in environmental and sustainability accounting", Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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