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Where Is Sustainability within the Canadian CPA Education Program?

Sustainability Accounting

ISBN: 978-1-78754-889-3, eISBN: 978-1-78754-888-6

Publication date: 17 April 2018



This study explores how Canadian CPAs (Chartered Professional Accountants) are trained in sustainability. The main research questions are: What place should sustainability take in the accounting program? What place does sustainability occupy in the CPA accounting program? And, over time, has sustainability gained or lost ground within the Canadian professional accounting education program?


Content analysis and interviews.


We find that sustainability is not a key component of the CPA education program since its sustainability content has shrunk over the years. We believe that the groupthink phenomenon may have influenced the selection of CPA Competency Map participants (whose backgrounds reveal a lack of sustainability expertise) as well as the participants’ discussions. Additionally, a lack of consideration for society as a key stakeholder may have also influenced the shortage of sustainability content. Finally, power dynamics might have contributed to the financial accounting and reporting competencies dominating the new map.

Research limitations

We did not have access to the live meetings when the Map was created, although we conducted interviews with representatives involved in the process. This research is bound by a confidentiality agreement that limits us from providing sensitive details. However, we do not consider that these limitations undermine our contribution or reduce the relevance of our research.


Our research contributes to the under-researched domain of sustainability education and to understanding how groupthink, stakeholder theory and power dynamics may have contributed to the dearth of sustainability coverage in the new Canadian CPA program.




We would like to thank participants for their comments made at the 3rd French CSEAR Conference at the ESSEC Business School, at the 5th Italian CSEAR Conference at the University of Padova, and at the 31st CAAA Conference in St. John’s, NL, Canada. We would also like to thank Sara Moggi (University of Verona), Michelle Rodrigue (Université Laval), and Stephen Bergstrom (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology) for their valuable comments. The authors are also grateful for the numerous and constructive comments received from two anonymous reviewers and co-editors: Sophie Spring (Université de Montpellier), Jonathan Maurice (IAE Toulouse), and Charles Cho (Schulich School of Business). Finally, we thank the CPA Research Centre in Accountability and the Manulife Professorship in Financial Planning, both at the John Molson School of Business of Concordia University, for their financial support.


Boulianne, E. and Keddie, S.L. (2018), "Where Is Sustainability within the Canadian CPA Education Program?", Sustainability Accounting (Advances in Environmental Accounting & Management, Vol. 7), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 71-112.



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