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Sustainability accounting, management and policy in China: recent developments and future avenues

Hongtao Shen (School of Management, Jinan University, Guangzhou, China)
Artie W. Ng (School of Professional Education and Executive Development, College of Professional and Continuing Education, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kowloon, Hong Kong, China)
John Zhang (School of Management, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK)
Liyan Wang (Guanghua School of Management, Peking University, Beijing, China)

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal

ISSN: 2040-8021

Article publication date: 2 July 2020

Issue publication date: 2 September 2020




This paper aims to reflect on the special issue that has collected studies by the research community in China pertinent to the country’s recent developments in sustainability accounting, management and policy, as well as to suggest possible future avenues of studies.


This paper articulates the current status of researching sustainability accounting, management and policy in China that is instigated by the country’s regulatory initiatives under its political economy. It highlights the papers accepted for the special issue, their areas of focus and the underlying characteristics.


It points out that the accepted research papers concentrate on issues related to corporate social responsibility disclosures, sustainability reporting and environmental management in China from the perspectives of the domestic stakeholders.

Research limitations/implications

Future studies are likely to be increasingly interdisciplinary in nature and requires academia, policymakers and practitioners to make better collaborative efforts in researching about China’s sustainability and the efficacy of their engagement with stakeholders.

Practical implications

Studies on alignment between China’s further developments and UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs) are particularly considered desirable as the country continues its globalization initiatives. Education about sustainability accounting for the working professionals and their next generation is much needed for China in support of developing a more sustainable economy aligned with UN's SDGs.

Social implications

Scholars in China actively developing their research interests in this field reflect critical thinking about the country’s pursuit of sustainable development within a social-political economy that is dissimilar to the West. In the meantime, the country continues to develop into a significant stakeholder of the world’s sustainability implying expectation of transparency in sustainability performance.


With reference to the review exercise conducted for the special issue, it suggests that there are surging interests in researching accountability for sustainability across the local and international communities to facilitate much needed knowledge exchange. The country and indigenous culture of China, as well as its institutions in relation to sustainability, would require much further exploration in our world under globalization.



The corresponding author would like to acknowledge that he is the Principal Investigator of the Project titled “From Social and Environmental Accounting to Sustainability Accounting and Responsible Investment: Emerging Research Agendas” (Ref. UGC/IIDS24/B02/16) funded under the Inter-Institutional Development Scheme by the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. The Project provided financial support to the CSEAR North Asia Conference held in December 2017 which led to the development of this Special Issue on China.

The first author would like to acknowledge that this work was supported by the Special Fund Project for Science and Technology Innovation Strategy of Guangdong Province (Grant No. 2019B121205004).


Shen, H., Ng, A.W., Zhang, J. and Wang, L. (2020), "Sustainability accounting, management and policy in China: recent developments and future avenues", Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, Vol. 11 No. 5, pp. 825-839.



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