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Article
Publication date: 7 November 2016

Andrea B. Coulson

The purpose of this paper is to constructively critique KPMG’s “True Value methodology” which seeks to quantify in financial terms the value companies create or reduce for society.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to constructively critique KPMG’s “True Value methodology” which seeks to quantify in financial terms the value companies create or reduce for society.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper is based on a review of documents produced by KPMG detailing its methodology and corporate reports in the public domain of the True Value methodology applied in practice. The critique is divided into two sections. The first section reviews KPMGs methodological view of a bounded economic reality and offers potential starting points and limitations for a conceptual framing of the “methodology”. Practical insights on applying the methodology are offered in the second section.

Findings

The True Value methodology helps its producers understand the potential risk to future earnings posed by current externalities being internalised. KPMG’s socio-economic framing of future scenarios and financial valuation of environmental and social impacts is limited to a standardised commercial viewpoint. Potential opportunities exist for producers to involve stakeholders in the application of the methodology to form a more inclusive and pluralist conception of risk and values for social and environmental impacts.

Practical implications

This paper offers timely insights for companies using and considering the use of the “True Value” methodology and stakeholders considering their engagement in the application process and/or use of its findings.

Originality/value

The study is a constructive critique of this contemporary, financial practice of accounting for externalities developed by KMPG.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 7 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

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Article
Publication date: 7 September 2015

Andrea B. Coulson, Carol A. Adams, Michael N. Nugent and Kathryn Haynes

The purpose of this paper is to explore the potential of the metaphor of capital, and to chart the development of the multiple capitals concept in the International…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the potential of the metaphor of capital, and to chart the development of the multiple capitals concept in the International < IR > Framework and consider how it might develop and be used. In doing so, the paper discusses the implications of the contributions to this special issue in the further development of the capitals concept.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors draw on documents of the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) and review the literature on capitals to consider the formation of the metaphor of multiple capitals. This is reflected upon while recognising the varied involvement of the authors with the IIRC capitals conception. The challenges of conceiving a multiple capitals framework are critiqued with reference to empirical and theoretical contributions drawn from recognition of planetary boundaries, gendered capitals, power and intersection of capitals and important practical and conceptual insights raised by papers in this special issue.

Findings

The authors find that the agenda of the IIRC is a shift from a “financial capital market system” to an “inclusive capital market system” through recognition of multiple capitals and integrated reporting and thinking. It is emphasised that their vision is not intended as a call for the measurement of these various capitals in monetary terms alone. Through insights from research on planetary boundaries and gendered capitals, the authors critique the potential communsurability of capitals and make visible potential tensions between them. Some of the challenges and opportunities when reporting on multiple capitals are recognised. These include: use of the capitals terminology; analysing connectivity between the capitals; the extent to which value created (and depleted) by each capital should be monetised and highlight possibilities for future research.

Practical implications

Reflecting on the vision of the IIRC, the authors use the critical potential of the metaphor to highlight the IIRC’s vision and understand the role of multiple capitals and potential tensions between them. The authors provide normative insights into the need for engagement on the philosophies of integrated thinking and symbolism of capital and multiple capitals as the way forward.

Originality/value

It is through discussions around multiple capitals – what is in, what is out, how capital is valued – that metaphors will be (re)created. By considering the notion of capital in < IR > and critiquing this with reference to research insights, the authors seek to open up debate on the framing of multiple capitals.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 6 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

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Article
Publication date: 7 September 2015

Nick Barter

This paper aims to discuss natural capital by offering some viewpoints on the economic rationality facilitated by the concept. The paper highlights the likely…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to discuss natural capital by offering some viewpoints on the economic rationality facilitated by the concept. The paper highlights the likely performativity of the concept and, ultimately, how this may impact us.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper draws on existing literature to develop its arguments.

Findings

The concept of natural capital may be necessary and accepted, but it is not benign and it facilitates the expansion of economic rationality to new areas. The paper uses some examples to draw out some potential implications of economic rationality that the concept of natural capital may facilitate that are morally dubious.

Research limitations/implications

This paper is a cautionary note to those who might use the concept of natural capital and offers considerations through the use of examples.

Practical implications

The practical implications of this paper are that users of capitals or natural capital frameworks should consider all the potential outcomes of applying those frameworks and whether they are desirable. In particular, it argues that the application of capital frameworks facilitates the expansion of economic decision logics to those areas that are currently not mediated in such a way and this outcome may not have favorable outcomes.

Social implications

This paper highlights how the use of the concept of natural capital could advance economic rationality to those interactions that are not classically considered economic. It argues that this advance may result in economic rationality being applied to our person-to-person (social) interactions, and, thus, the right and wrong of such interactions is measured via an economic calculation. A result one may not consider desirable but may be unavoidable through applying capitals frameworks.

Originality/value

In drawing on existing literature, the originality lies in its discussion of how natural capital is not a neutral term, its framing will likely have implications.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 6 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 7 September 2015

Robert Hogan and Jocelyn D. Evans

This paper aims to advance the literature by extending the empirical relation between a firm’s strategy and socially responsible value drivers (customer/employee…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to advance the literature by extending the empirical relation between a firm’s strategy and socially responsible value drivers (customer/employee relations) beyond firm performance to the impact on earnings persistence. Although existing research demonstrates that management’s effective implementation of a specific strategic orientation such as cost focus or product differentiation leads to better financial performance, no studies, to the authors’ knowledge, directly address the effect of strategic orientation on the persistence of earnings.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper utilized the evaluation of a firm’s focus on employee and customer relations through the rating provided by Kinder, Lydenberg and Domini. It uses linear regression analysis to identify statistically significant relations.

Findings

The findings demonstrate that simply focusing on socially responsible employee and customer relations alone does not result in higher earnings persistence. But rather, higher earnings persistence is associated with firms whose strategic orientation is aligned with the firm’s socially responsible value drivers. Additionally, we find that the capital market understands the importance of alignment between a firm’s strategy and its value drivers.

Research limitations/implications

The analysis was based on a large-scale sample, and the authors concede that as a consequence of this decision, the results are based on indirect assessments of the firm’s actions rather than direct feedback from the firm. However, the authors believe the large-scale, external assessment that they use increases the generalizability of the results.

Practical implications

The results provide guidance to management and boards of directors regarding the critical nature of disclosure regarding firm strategy and corporate social responsibility (CSR) as well as inform financial statement users as to useful relations beyond the actual reported accounting numbers.

Originality/value

Existing research has explored the relation between CSR and improved financial performance, but no studies, to our knowledge, examine the relation a firm’s strategy and value drivers (customer/employee relations) has on earnings persistence. Earnings persistence is worthy of study, as it captures the non-transitory nature of earnings, which is a useful attribute for both internal and external users of financial reporting.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 6 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 1995

Andrea B. Coulson and Rob Dixon

The pressures to include specific environmental considerationswithin corporate strategy are increasing. While clear evidence exists of“green” issues entering the financial…

Abstract

The pressures to include specific environmental considerations within corporate strategy are increasing. While clear evidence exists of “green” issues entering the financial agenda, the full consequences have yet to filter through into an impact on strategy. Examines both the legislative pressure and pressure from financial markets for companies to adopt an environmental risk strategy. Categorizes the pressures from financial markets into two groups: lenders and equity investors, and uses case evidence to illustrate current management issues. A guide to establishing an environmental management system is defined as a tool to complement the development of an environmental risk strategy.

Details

International Journal of Bank Marketing, vol. 13 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0265-2323

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Article
Publication date: 7 September 2015

Neelam Setia, Subhash Abhayawansa, Mahesh Joshi and Anh Vu Huynh

This study aims to examine whether the integrated reports prepared in accordance with the King III Code of corporate governance regulation are providing the information…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to examine whether the integrated reports prepared in accordance with the King III Code of corporate governance regulation are providing the information intended of an integrated report, i.e. to communicate the “ability of an organisation to create and sustain value”. Second, it explains the behaviour of companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) when responding to the regulation to publish an integrated report. The King III Code of corporate governance requires companies listed on the JSE to prepare annually an integrated report or provide reasons for not doing so.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper uses legitimacy theory to formulate two alternative propositions on how JSE-listed companies may disclose information relating to a number of capitals, as described by the International Integrated Reporting Committee, in response to the King III Code. Annual/integrated reports of the top 25 JSE listed companies for the years 2009/2010 and 2011/2012 are content-analysed for the presence of information on capitals. The change in the extent of disclosure of capitals is analysed using t-tests to test the propositions.

Findings

The results show that the introduction of integrated reporting in South Africa has resulted in an increase in the extent of disclosure of human, social and relational, natural and intellectual capital information of the listed companies. The increment in the disclosure of social and relational capital is statistically significantly greater than the increment in the disclosure of other capitals. The findings indicate that JSE-listed companies are adopting a legitimation strategy based on symbolic management when preparing integrated reports.

Practical implications

This study sheds light on the relevance of regulating corporate reporting within a setting where companies are already voluntarily reporting on social, environmental, human, intellectual and natural capital information. Findings have implications for policymakers who have mandated or considering mandating integrated reporting. To the South African policymakers, in particular, this study highlights the need for incorporating, within the listing rules, minimum requirements in relation to the nature and content of an integrated report.

Originality/value

This paper provides the first initial evidence on the impact of the introduction of integrated reporting regulation, followed by limited guidance to preparers, on the nature and extent of disclosure of capitals. This study extends the work of Solomon and Maroun (2012) by explaining disclosure practices of South African-listed companies in relation to information on relational, human and intellectual capital.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 6 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

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Article
Publication date: 24 April 2007

Mark Shenkin and Andrea B. Coulson

The purpose of this paper is to reflect on how the social‐theoretical work of Pierre Bourdieu (1931‐2001) could contribute to knowledge production on accountability.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to reflect on how the social‐theoretical work of Pierre Bourdieu (1931‐2001) could contribute to knowledge production on accountability.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper draws on Bourdieu's conceptualisation of social practice in terms of a field/habitus relation, and uses this relation as a framing mechanism to explore the possibilities of accountability in corporate‐stakeholder relations.

Findings

The authors argue that Bourdieu's work holds significant implications for academics operating in the political space relating to accountability because it informs a basis for academic intervention.

Research limitations/implications

Included in the paper are a critique of the dominant “liberal” position on accountability and a defence of the development of a “post‐liberal” alternative.

Practical implications

It is argued that this alternative requires moving away from the dominant procedural approach to practice and recognising the value of informal communication and non‐institutional action as equally valid routes towards accountability.

Originality/value

Reflecting on Bourdieu's position reminds us of the explicit link between political and methodological change, and highlights the necessity for these to be inextricably linked.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 20 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 7 September 2015

Mark W. McElroy and Martin P. Thomas

The purpose of this paper is to disclose a new performance accounting method called the MultiCapital Scorecard, which makes it possible to measure, manage and report…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to disclose a new performance accounting method called the MultiCapital Scorecard, which makes it possible to measure, manage and report Triple Bottom Line performance relative to organization-specific norms for impacts on multiple capitals.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors set out to expand a pre-existing multiple capital accounting system known as Context-Based Sustainability. Whereas Context-Based Sustainability assesses the social and environmental performance of organizations relative to norms for impacts on non-economic capitals, the MultiCapital Scorecard adds economic performance to the mix.

Findings

The authors find that it is indeed possible to measure and report the social, environmental and economic performance of an organization in an integrated, context-based way relative to norms for impacts on multiple capitals. The MultiCapital Scorecard is the result.

Practical implications

The MultiCapital Scorecard is an open-source methodology that any organization can use. For managers or accountants interested in testing, evaluating or adopting multiple capital accounting, it provides a practical and systematic solution.

Social implications

The MultiCapital Scorecard is transformational, in that it holds organizations and commerce writ large accountable to the limits in, and demands for, vital capitals in the world on a fair and proportionate basis. No other method does this, and yet it must be done if there is to be sustainability in the conduct of human affairs.

Originality/value

The paper describes the world’s first multiple capital, context-based accounting system that organizations can use to measure, manage and report their Triple Bottom Line performance in integrated and quantitative terms. The MultiCapital Scorecard is the authors’ original creation.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 6 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 7 September 2015

Carl Gordon Obst

This paper aims to increase awareness of work on accounting for natural capital at the national and international level that has been ongoing for many years and has…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to increase awareness of work on accounting for natural capital at the national and international level that has been ongoing for many years and has recently culminated in the adoption of international statistical standards for environmental-economic accounting.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper provides the context for work on natural capital accounting with particular links to the measurement of progress and a brief history of the work on natural capital accounting from an official statistics perspective and summarizes the key aspects of the technical and accounting aspects of the new international statistical standards. The paper also outlines some of the limitations of the approach and required research.

Findings

The paper highlights that while natural capital accounting does not provide a complete basis for assessment of sustainable development, a broad body of work is now in place to use accounting approaches for the assessment of environmental sustainability.

Research limitations/implications

The paper observes that much of the work on natural capital accounting from the perspective of the official statistics community has not engaged the academic community and there is strong potential for collaboration to take this work forward particularly in the area of land and ecosystem accounting.

Social implications

The paper describes a framework for the organization of information on the links between environmental and economic issues and an indication of the relevance of this work for the broader measurement of progress. Compilation of data following the framework is intended to provide a broader base of information for public policy and other decisions and thus has the potential to influence social, economic and environmental outcomes.

Originality/value

The paper’s value lies in raising awareness of the work that has been developing outside of the academic community but which likely has many connections to existing research and ongoing policy discussions.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 6 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

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Article
Publication date: 7 September 2015

Delphine Gibassier and Stefan Schaltegger

The purpose of this paper is to focus on carbon accounting as one aspect of accounting for impacts on the environmental capital and to detail the “convergence” process…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to focus on carbon accounting as one aspect of accounting for impacts on the environmental capital and to detail the “convergence” process between two emergent corporate carbon management accounting approaches within a multinational company. In contrast to the reporting stakeholder and regulatory focus, company-internal issues of carbon accounting have so far rarely been investigated in depth. Based on a qualitative analysis of this in-depth case study, questions about what could be considered an effective carbon management accounting system are raised.

Design/methodology/approach

The research has been conducted with an in-depth case study, using participant observation (Spradley, 1980). The authors follow a pragmatic research approach, and the proposal of Malmi and Granlund (2009) “to create theories useful for practice is to solve practical problems with practitioners and synthesize the novel solutions to a more general form”.

Findings

This case study demonstrates that it is possible to connect two corporate carbon management accounting approaches focusing on products and the organization into a combined carbon management accounting system. This has potential impact in making carbon management accounting in organizations leaner, and more efficient in terms of performance measurement and external communication.

Research limitations/implications

This research is based on a single case study, and more case studies in different industries could highlight further practical implementation difficulties and approaches to overcome.

Practical implications

This paper unveils that different carbon management accounting approaches can emerge in parallel in the same corporation. The paper discusses possibilities and challenges to converge them in terms of methodology (emission factors for example) and/or in terms of information systems, on which the calculations are based.

Originality/value

This is, to our knowledge, the first case study of an organization explicitly acknowledging the existence of multiple emerged carbon management accounting approaches and trying to make sense of them in a convergence process to create an overarching carbon accounting system.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 6 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

Keywords

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