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Article
Publication date: 15 January 2018

Amanpreet Kaur and Sumit Lodhia

The purpose of this paper is to examine how stakeholders are engaged in the sustainability accounting and reporting processes of Australian local councils.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine how stakeholders are engaged in the sustainability accounting and reporting processes of Australian local councils.

Design/methodology/approach

Managerial stakeholder theory through the use of the notion of stakeholder salience provides a theoretical basis for exploring stakeholder engagement in the sustainability accounting and reporting process. Case study research was used to explore the stakeholder engagement practices of three Australian local councils. Data collection methods included interviews and document analysis.

Findings

The findings of this research identified the importance of stakeholder engagement in the entire sustainability accounting and reporting process, the development of strategic plans and sustainability indicators, the measurement of sustainability performance and the preparation of sustainability reports.

Research limitations/implications

This study, by integrating the sustainability accounting and reporting literature with the stakeholder salience concepts of power, legitimacy, urgency and proximity, illustrates the critical role of stakeholder engagement in the sustainability accounting and reporting process of three local councils.

Practical implications

This study has implications for public sector organisations (PSOs) and their stakeholders in relation to stakeholder engagement in sustainability accounting and reporting. The findings of this study will also be useful to corporations in understanding the importance of stakeholder engagement in sustainability accounting and reporting.

Social implications

The public sector is expected to be a leader in sustainability and this paper provides evidence of three councils who through their stakeholder engagement provide exemplars of useful practices that could be adopted by other entities.

Originality/value

Prior research in PSOs has primarily focused on the sustainability accounting and reporting process but has given limited consideration to the involvement of stakeholders. The focus on stakeholder engagement through the use of managerial stakeholder theory extends the role of stakeholders from merely being an audience for sustainability reports to an influential contributor in the sustainability accounting and reporting process.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 31 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 9 April 2018

Sumit Lodhia

This paper aims to consider the vital role that the medium for communication plays in the sustainability reporting process and provides an agenda for advancing research in…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to consider the vital role that the medium for communication plays in the sustainability reporting process and provides an agenda for advancing research in this area.

Design/methodology/approach

This is a theoretical paper that draws upon previous literature to highlight that the newer communication media extends the capabilities of traditional media and provides insights into future research directions.

Research limitations/implications

This paper highlights that communication medium has a critical role in sustainability reporting and changes the dynamics of such reporting, leading to a change in the research approaches to study this phenomenon.

Practical implications

The paper has implications for practitioners in relation to the use of various communication media for sustainability reporting.

Social implications

The paper highlights that modern information and communication technologies transform reporting into communication, thereby providing potential for enhancing the engagement of stakeholders with a corporation.

Originality/value

This paper suggests that the role of the communication medium is integral to the communication of sustainability issues to stakeholders and that future research needs to justify the choice of the medium used for sustainability reporting studies.

Details

Meditari Accountancy Research, vol. 26 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-372X

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Article
Publication date: 31 May 2021

Sumit Lodhia, Umesh Sharma and Mary Low

This paper aims to introduce the special issue on “sustainability and accounting for non-financial matters: qualitative and quantitative research approaches”. This special…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to introduce the special issue on “sustainability and accounting for non-financial matters: qualitative and quantitative research approaches”. This special issue was organised at the time when the entire globe was affected by the Coronavirus and accordingly, this paper has taken this opportunity to discuss the implications of this pandemic on accounting for non-financial issues, especially in relation to sustainability accounting research and practice.

Design/methodology/approach

An analysis of public documents and limited academic research on the Coronavirus was undertaken in this paper to highlight how life as it existed has fundamentally changed. The authors also review the papers published in this special issue and identifies research opportunities arising from the current environment.

Findings

The onslaught of the Coronavirus provides both challenges and opportunities for the practice of, and research into, accounting for non-financial matters, such as sustainability. The papers published in this special issue promote understanding and linking of sustainability reporting practices, to creating firm values, as well as identifying current and emerging challenges. The special issue explores criteria for the construction of accounting technology that is consistent with agnostic-based critical accounting and accountability, a business case for managers and practitioners to formulate strategic and management control systems in response to climate change issues, legitimacy and the use of photographs in sustainability reporting to create value, effective disclosures of business and sustainability ethics practiced by the firm for reputation building and value creation, indigenous accounting in mining companies, public sector policy framing of non-financial value, the barriers to sustainability reporting because of lack of awareness and knowledge and inadequate regulatory support in developing countries and the significance of sustainability accounting education to improve sustainability reporting practices in developing countries.

Research limitations/implications

Future research opportunities in relation to the impact of the Coronavirus on accounting for non-financial value are identified. Given that COVID-19 is a societal matter, the practical implications of the Coronavirus in accounting for non-financial value creation are highlighted. The Coronavirus has challenged the existing economic paradigm and non-financial issues will capture the attention of corporations, other institutions, civil society and governments.

Practical implications

The Coronavirus has challenged the existing economic paradigm and non-financial issues will capture the attention of corporations, other institutions, civil society and governments.

Social implications

Given that COVID-19 is a societal matter, the practical implications of the Coronavirus in accounting for non-financial value creation are highlighted.

Originality/value

This study, to the knowledge, is one of the pioneer academic studies that has explored the implications of the Coronavirus on accounting for non-financial value. In addition, this special issue includes papers that highlight how non-financial reporting matters are increasingly being given attention by companies to enhance business practices on sustainability through different perspectives.

Details

Meditari Accountancy Research, vol. 29 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-372X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 10 April 2020

Sumit Lodhia, Amanpreet Kaur and Gerard Stone

This paper aims to examine the use of social media for sustainability reporting by the largest Australia companies as a means of seeking legitimacy from stakeholders.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine the use of social media for sustainability reporting by the largest Australia companies as a means of seeking legitimacy from stakeholders.

Design/methodology/approach

Qualitative content analysis was applied to examine social and environmental disclosures posted by Australian companies on three social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and to observe stakeholder interaction in relation to the social and environmental postings.

Findings

The findings of this study indicate a limited use of social media by the top 50 Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) listed companies for sustainability reporting as only 46 per cent of the companies used Facebook, Twitter and/or LinkedIn. Nevertheless, those companies which actively used social media were able to seek legitimacy through information disclosure and dialogue with stakeholders. Social issues such as community support, employees, gender equality and diversity dominated the three social media platforms when compared to environmental issues and all disclosures had a positive tone. These disclosures in turn framed the dialogue with stakeholders, leading to use of social media platforms that companies preferred and enabling a close control over online discussions.

Research limitations/implications

This study highlights that social media sustainability communication focuses on symbolic legitimacy strategies, leading to companies managing the impressions of their stakeholders and controlling the dialogue with them.

Practical implications

This study provides an understanding of the actual practice of social media sustainability communication and has implications for both organisations and their stakeholders.

Originality/value

This study provides in-depth insights into the use of social media to transform sustainability reporting, an issue that has limited coverage in prior literature and extends the application of legitimacy theory to social media communication.

Details

Meditari Accountancy Research, vol. 28 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-372X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 7 November 2016

Sabrina Chong, Irshad Ali and Sumit K. Lodhia

The purpose of this paper is to introduce a model to assess web-based corporate social responsibility (CSR) disclosure prominence and use this model to explore the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to introduce a model to assess web-based corporate social responsibility (CSR) disclosure prominence and use this model to explore the prominence of CSR disclosures of listed New Zealand (NZ) companies.

Design/methodology/approach

A CSR Disclosure Prominence Indicator Model was constructed using five key elements that include the dissemination medium, accessibility, location, content variety and extent of CSR disclosures. The websites of 65 of the largest listed NZ companies from 11 industry groupings were explored through this model.

Findings

A significant proportion (81.5 per cent) of listed NZ companies in the sample were utilising their websites for communicating CSR information to stakeholders. The CSR Disclosure Prominence Indicator Model revealed that companies that have CSR-related disclosures on their websites used multiple dissemination media and locations to enhance prominence of such disclosures. CSR commentary on the webpage was the most prominent dissemination medium due to its ease of accessibility, with a separate CSR webpage being the most prominent location. Environmental performance and society-related issues received the most prominent emphasis. Although companies from “sensitive” industry sectors appeared to disclose their CSR information more prominently, those from “less sensitive” industries also attempted to make their CSR disclosure more prominent and noticeable through strategic placement and through the extent of disclosure.

Research limitations/implications

The paper highlights the importance of managing web-based CSR disclosure prominence, thereby highlighting its significance in communication of CSR information.

Practical implications

Prominently placed CSR disclosures could be a significant platform for companies to strategically manage their image and identity. The CSR Disclosure Prominence Indicator Model could be utilised by companies to effectively assess and manage the prominence of CSR disclosures on their websites for more effective communication with stakeholders.

Originality/value

The paper complements earlier studies on CSR disclosures by constructing and applying a model to assess the prominence of web-based CSR disclosures.

Details

Pacific Accounting Review, vol. 28 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0114-0582

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Article
Publication date: 18 March 2019

Amanpreet Kaur and Sumit K. Lodhia

This paper aims to explore the key issues and challenges that can affect the quality of stakeholder engagement processes and outcomes in relation to sustainability reporting.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to explore the key issues and challenges that can affect the quality of stakeholder engagement processes and outcomes in relation to sustainability reporting.

Design/methodology/approach

Case study research was used to gain in-depth insights into the stakeholder engagement practices of three Australian local councils.

Findings

The findings of this study suggest that the effectiveness of stakeholder engagement can be undermined by certain difficulties and challenges faced by an organisation. These include limited resources, lack of commitment from internal stakeholders, political factors, heterogeneous concerns, inadequate representation and an unwillingness to engage.

Research limitations/implications

The study adds to the limited literature on stakeholder engagement in sustainability reporting specifically and on sustainability accounting and reporting in public sector organisations (PSOs) more generally.

Practical implications

This research provides practical guidance to government authorities on the challenges that need to be addressed to enable an effective stakeholder engagement process for sustainability reporting.

Social implications

Stakeholders have a critical role in holding organisations accountable and research into their engagement with these organisations has societal benefits.

Originality/value

This research while focused on the Australian context has international relevance as it provides unique insights into the stakeholder engagement process. The implications of this research apply to not just PSOs but also corporations that are grappling with the (difficult) process of effective engagement with stakeholders.

Details

Pacific Accounting Review, vol. 31 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0114-0582

Keywords

Abstract

Details

Meditari Accountancy Research, vol. 27 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-372X

Abstract

Details

Pacific Accounting Review, vol. 31 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0114-0582

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Article
Publication date: 17 September 2020

Irshad Ali, Sumit Lodhia and Anil K. Narayan

This paper aims to investigate the use of legitimacy strategies via the usage of photographic disclosures in sustainability reporting as an attempt towards creating value.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to investigate the use of legitimacy strategies via the usage of photographic disclosures in sustainability reporting as an attempt towards creating value.

Design/methodology/approach

This study used visual content analysis to identify disclosure trends and value creation themes from sustainability-related photographs in the annual and sustainability reports of Fonterra Co-operative Group over a ten-year period. The findings were interpreted using legitimacy theory.

Findings

The findings show a significant increase in the usage of photographs to legitimise and reinforce the organisation’s sustainability messages. The photographs are dominated by images signalling to stakeholders’ positive sustainability messages, as a systematic method for managing stakeholder expectations to maintain, gain and even repair legitimacy. A majority of photographs have supporting textual narrative, which could be construed as an attempt by the company to make their sustainability messages explicit and provide greater legitimacy of activities and performance with the ultimate aim of enhancing organisational value.

Research limitations/implications

This study contributes towards an in-depth understanding of attempts at seeking legitimacy and creating organisational value through the systematic usage of photographic disclosures in sustainability reporting.

Practical implications

This study has the potential to inform stakeholders on linkages between sustainability photographs, value creation and legitimacy. It can help inform and assist report preparers, designers and users on the potential of photographs as a substantive medium to manage legitimacy in sustainability reporting.

Originality/value

This paper adds to the scant literature on the growing use of photographs as a value adding apparatus in sustainability reporting. This paper also extends the applicability of legitimacy theory to visual disclosure and suggests that legitimacy can be systematically sought to create value.

Details

Meditari Accountancy Research, vol. 29 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-372X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 28 January 2020

Jayanthi Kumarasiri and Sumit Lodhia

This study aims to explore how large Australian companies in emission intensive industries perceived the introduction of the Carbon Tax as an approach to carbon emissions…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to explore how large Australian companies in emission intensive industries perceived the introduction of the Carbon Tax as an approach to carbon emissions regulation and as a tool for accountability. It also investigates the influence of perceptions of the new tax on the internal carbon emissions management practices and the motivations for such actions.

Design/methodology/approach

This study draws on transaction cost theory and legitimacy theory to address corporate perceptions, responses and motivations in relation to the Carbon Tax. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 18 senior managers directly responsible for the carbon emissions management of their companies.

Findings

The study found that the Carbon Tax, viewed by the high-emitting companies as a heavy financial burden, had a significant influence on moderating organisational legitimacy seeking behaviours. It is evident that the transaction cost issues in the form of the carbon pricing requirement has led to a change of focus to “management” rather than merely reporting to external stakeholders. This influenced companies to change their behaviour with the potential to internalise previous externalities of carbon pollution.

Research limitations/implications

This research highlights that a pricing signal in emissions regulations is essential in conjunction with external pressures to effectively stimulate emissions management actions in companies. It extends our understanding of legitimacy theory by suggesting that a mandatory pricing mechanism as explained by transaction cost economics has the potential to lead to actual changes in corporate behaviour through a focus on management rather than reporting.

Practical implications

The study highlights the important elements of any effective emissions policy designed to encourage strong emissions management actions from companies. Based on the findings of the study, it is evident that the Carbon Tax was a very effective mechanism in driving emission management actions, despite the general perception that any deficiencies associated with such a price mechanism could have a negative effect on the economy.

Social implications

Climate change is a critical issue for the modern society and this study discussed a short-lived policy tool in the Australian context that had the potential to change corporate behaviour in relation to carbon management.

Originality/value

This study is among the very few studies that have examined the influence of the Carbon Tax on internal emissions management practices of companies, and therefore, provides a unique dataset of corporate responses to the Carbon Tax. Given the short time frame that the Carbon Tax was in operation, the study enhances our understanding of the influence the Carbon Tax had on companies responsible for high greenhouse gas emissions.

Details

Meditari Accountancy Research, vol. 28 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-372X

Keywords

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