Sustainability and Governance: Volume 18

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Table of contents

(13 chapters)

Mandatory auditor firm rotation (mandatory rotation) has been a controversial issue in the United States for many decades. Mandatory rotation has been considered at various times as a means of improving auditor independence. For example, in the United States, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) has considered mandatory rotation as a solution to the independence problem (PCAOB, 2011) and the European Parliament approved legislation that will require mandatory rotation in the near future (Council of European Union, 2014). The concept of implementing a mandatory rotation policy has been encouraged by some constituents of audited financial statements and rejected by other constituents of audited financial statements. Although there are apparent pros and cons of such a policy, the developmental process of such a policy in this country has not necessarily been an open-democratic, objective process. Universal mandatory rotation may or may not be the ideal solution; however, an open-democratic, objective process is needed to facilitate the development of a solution that considers the needs of all major stakeholders of audited financial statements – not simply accounting firms and public companies, but also investors. The purpose of this paper is to critically examine key issues relating to mandatory rotation and to encourage and stimulate future research and ongoing dialogue regarding this issue, in spite of efforts by certain constituents to silence the issue. This paper provides an overview of the various reasons, including practical, theoretical, political, and self-motivated reasons, why a mandatory rotation policy has not been implemented in the United States in order to address the potential conflict of interest between the auditor and client. This paper will also discuss how some deliberations of mandatory rotation have been flawed. The paper concludes with a summary of key issues along with two approaches for regulators, policy makers, and academics to consider as ways to improve the process and address auditor independence. The authors are not advocating for any specific solution; however, we are advocating for a more objective, unified approach and for the dialogue regarding auditor rotation to continue.


The manner in which publicly traded companies’ management teams handle their firm’s free cash flows (FCF) has been an issue for many decades, because it is difficult to determine whether these management teams work for their own benefit or for that of their shareholders. Recent financial scandals have heightened mistrust of management. This mistrust, in turn, may have increased the pressure to reduce the portion of FCF left under management’s control. Boards of directors control dividend payout decisions, thus determining the portion of FCF available to corporate management. This paper examines whether the 2002 legal response to corporate financial reporting scandals, which came in the form of many new initiatives and requirements imposed by the Sarbanes–Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX) on all publicly traded firms, was relevant to dividend payouts. This question is investigated by noting that the impact of these new requirements differed among firms. Some firms had already introduced the use of independent directors and fully independent committees prior to SOX making them compulsory in 2002. This paper examines whether these “pre-adopters” experienced less change in their dividend payout policies than those firms that were forced to change the composition of their board and committees.

This investigation examines the effect on dividend payouts for listed firms attributable to the SOX and concurrent changes in stock exchange regulations that compelled increased use of independent directors and fully independent committees. To study the impact of SOX and the associated, required, changes in the composition of boards of directors for many firms, the difference-in-differences methodology is employed to overcome the endogeneity concerns that have consistently challenged prior governance studies. This was accomplished by examining the effects on dividend payouts associated with the exogenously forced addition of independent directors to the boards of publicly listed firms. The results reveal that there is a significant positive relationship between firms that were compelled by law to change their boards and increases in average changes in dividend payouts and percentage changes in dividends paid, when compared to firms that had pre-adopted the Sarbanes–Oxley corporate board composition requirements. A further exploratory analysis showed that the same significant positive relationship is detected for increases in average changes in total dollars distributed, where stock repurchase dollars are combined with dividend payouts. These findings imply that these board composition changes led to decisions that increased dividend payouts in percentage terms, as well as dividend payouts and total dollars distributed in aggregate dollar amount terms.


In February 2010, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued an interpretive release clarifying the information that registrants should disclose about climate change in their annual filings. Based on the industries the European Union targeted for its cap-and-trade carbon trading mechanism, this study investigates climate change disclosures for Fortune 500 firms operating in these same sectors. Using an equal-weighting scheme for content analysis of Form 10-Ks from 136 firms, we completed a comparative analysis on the extensiveness of climate change disclosures for the pre- and post-periods surrounding the SEC pronouncement. We observed a statistically significant increase in the disclosure of information related to climate change in 2010 compared to 2008, but no similar effect when comparing 2010–2009 reporting. There was a significant disclosure increase in 2009 compared to 2008. We conclude – based on a hypothesized anticipation of the SEC actually mandating climate change information in filings – that firms augmented their disclosures during 2009 in advance of the official guidance being published. This is a rather significant outcome given the historical lack of environmental disclosure subsequent to previous SEC mandates.


There is growing apprehension about climate change and the role played by fossil fuels. Exploration of renewable sources of energy as an alternative to fossil fuels reveals that there is no path forward toward a true green economy that does not have negative environmental side effects. Thus, the improvement of managerial and financial accounting to provide more environmental information and accountability by governmental and nongovernmental institutions is increasingly important in guiding us toward wiser choices. Since the 1970s, the increasing concerns about the environment in the United States have led to improved regulation and more comprehensive environmental reporting requirements and accounting standards. Also, global institutions have been created to foster voluntary reporting of both direct and indirect environmental impacts of their activities by institutions. However, evidence suggests that, while some large global firms have found it useful to engage in sustainability reporting throughout their operations, in general, the US organizational environmental reporting is not strong and is oriented toward the legal minimum when present. If we are to take account of the many direct and indirect ways in which our production choices affect our environment, then our institutions need to play a larger role in informing our choices. Both the Environmental Managerial Accounting Initiative and an enhanced balanced scorecard approach are recommended as frameworks for future efforts; public and private institutions must also include life cycle analysis in decision-making systems in order to enhance their ability to help achieve sustainable economic progress.


My study examines the pay-for-performance relationship surrounding executive compensation in higher education. There has been much criticism of the rising levels of university presidential pay, particularly in the public sector, citing it is pay without performance. Public colleges and universities are funded by taxpayers; therefore, their expenditures are even more heavily scrutinized than private institutions. Many feel that university executives are overpaid and are not delivering a return in the form of enhanced institutional performance to their investors, the public. Growing student debt only adds intensity to the outcry against heightened compensation. Proponents of the increasing pay levels contend that the ever-changing role of the university president and competition in the marketplace for talent warrants such compensation. Using data obtained from The Chronicle of Higher Education and Integrated Postsecondary Education System websites, I find a highly significant and positive relationship between compensation for executives at four-year public institutions and both the levels of university endowment and enrollment. These results support the pay-for-performance debate. In contrast, results for other performance measures, scholarships and graduation rates, do not support the debate. My study contributes to the literature examining pay-for-performance in higher education with an empirical analysis examining the institutional determinants of executive compensation for public colleges and universities.


In this work, we review the interrelationship between gender, knowledge, socially imbued roles, work relations, and the impacts on society. We consider the data regarding education aptitudes for males and females in reading, math, and science and move to an analysis of wage rates and status. Our findings concur with other research. Spanning countries, economic systems, political environments, and cultures, there is a consistent and pervasive gender gap in wage rates and status. In seeking to understand such disparities, we review research on the creation of expectations and the formation of gender as a social construct. Despite various strategies and policies to overcome gender inequities at the national and supranational levels (e.g., EU and UN), gender gaps persist in education, politics, employment rates, representation on boards, and in childcare. While the knowledge-based society is perceived as a new production paradigm, using innovative and improved forms of knowledge, gender disparities remain. Questioning issues of hierarchy and inequality are fundamental to the discussion of deepening gender-accounting research. Although we look at the market place in this paper and financial well being is fundamental, it is not sufficient. Gender gaps persist due to deeply embedded cultural biases in institutions and people and the many obstacles and barriers – cultural, political, economic, social – require significant transformation in how we view the world. Reflecting on the observation that social change takes place in a myriad of ways, we seek new ways to shape deliberations, perceptions, and behavior. These are the possibilities for change we encourage.

Cover of Sustainability and Governance
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Advances in Public Interest Accounting
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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