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Supply chain-oriented corporate water accounting: a research agenda

Katherine Leanne Christ (School of Commerce, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia)
Roger Leonard Burritt (Faculty of Organic Agricultural Sciences, University of Kassel, Witzenhausen, Germany)

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal

ISSN: 2040-8021

Article publication date: 2 May 2017




Water is critical to all life on Earth and a crucial business resource which evidence suggests is often mismanaged. Corporate water accounting is an emerging practice designed to help corporations address water issues. Indirect water management in supply chains is important, but hitherto little consideration has been given to supply chain water accounting. This paper aims to synthesise available literature and infer how future research can further knowledge and take-up in practice.


An integrative literature review is used to synthesise the current state of knowledge and the prospects for academic research looking to further practice in supply chain water accounting.


Literature reveals two contrasting issues in need of further research, first, between normative and practical approaches to supply chain water accounting and, second, the focus on external reporting versus management.

Research limitations/implications

One main limitation is recognised. Technical aspects of supply chain water accounting tools, for example, water footprints and material flow cost accounting are not considered as focus is on the take-up of corporate supply chain water accounting in practice.

Practical implications

This study sets out an agenda for the future of supply chain water accounting which can be used to guide research and stimulate extension in practice and take-up of important indirect considerations in corporate water accounting in supply chains.


The integrative literature review leads to the identification of future research opportunities and a set of research questions relating to useful information, links with internal decision-making and external collaboration, application in companies of different sizes and to furthering the take-up of corporate water accounting practice in the increasingly important collaborative supply chain relationships which span the globe.



Christ, K.L. and Burritt, R.L. (2017), "Supply chain-oriented corporate water accounting: a research agenda", Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, Vol. 8 No. 2, pp. 216-242.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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