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Article
Publication date: 12 April 2021

Wei Qian, Carol Tilt and Ataur Belal

The purpose of this paper is to review most recent developments of social and environmental accounting (SEA) in the context of developing countries and to offer insights…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to review most recent developments of social and environmental accounting (SEA) in the context of developing countries and to offer insights for the latest research in this field. It also provides an introduction to the AAAJ special issue.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors have undertaken a conceptual overview of the field developed in the past two decades (2001–2020) with a view to identify major themes, trends and future research directions.

Findings

The overview reveals that only 43 SEA papers addressing contextual challenges of developing countries have been published in leading accounting journals in the last 20 years. The coverage of these publications is concentrated in a small number of countries and regions. Interdisciplinary accounting journals, especially AAAJ, are the main publishing outlets in this field. The topic areas are dominated by social accounting challenges, with much less focus on environmental accounting, although developing countries are particularly exposed to the threats of climate change, water pollution and biodiversity loss. The literature reviewed uses elaborating, problematising and theorising contexts as three main contextualisation approaches to analyse contextual themes framed around regulatory, political, cultural and religious, and social-economic systems. Although various conceptual lenses have been adopted in the developing country SEA literature, the use of institutional theory and its various extensions to address political and cultural complexities seems to become more prominent, as shown in most of the contributions included in this special issue.

Research limitations/implications

This review is limited to leading accounting journals. SEA research increasingly published in other disciplines such as in management, social and environmental areas might provide a more comprehensive view in this research field.

Originality/value

In this paper, inter alia, the authors review and synthesise the previous literature in a conceptual framework, illustrating and highlighting the importance of contextual framing of SEA in developing countries. Based on this review, the authors propose some ideas for a future research agenda aiming to advance the field. The authors expect this paper and the special issue to act as a reference point for emerging SEA researchers from developing countries to raise more scholarly impactful enquiries in this area.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 34 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 6 November 2020

Muhammad Al Mahameed, Ataur Belal, Florian Gebreiter and Alan Lowe

This paper explores how social accounting operates in the context of profound political, social and economic crises. Specifically, it examines how companies constructed…

2162

Abstract

Purpose

This paper explores how social accounting operates in the context of profound political, social and economic crises. Specifically, it examines how companies constructed strategies of action to produce and organise social accounting practices under different sociopolitical and economic contexts prior to and after the Arab Spring.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper draws on Swidler's theory of “Culture Toolkit” and 43 semi-structured interviews with 17 firms and their stakeholders in the Arab region.

Findings

The study argues that context influences social accounting practices by shaping a cultural toolkit of habits, skills and styles from which companies develop their social accounting related strategies of action. During “settled” periods, companies draw on resources to develop their social accounting practices whilst they seek knowledge and feedback on boundaries and expectations of the socio-political and economic contexts. During “unsettled” periods, companies begin to adopt highly organised meaning systems (i.e. ideologies) from which new ways and methods of social accounting practices are deployed.

Originality/value

The paper contributes to the extant literature by providing insights into social accounting practices in the under-explored context of the profound political, social and economic crises that followed the Arab Spring. In addition, we introduce Swidler's Culture Toolkit theory to the accounting literature.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 34 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Open Access
Article
Publication date: 10 May 2019

Miranti Kartika Dewi, Melina Manochin and Ataur Belal

The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of volunteers and its impact on related accountability practices towards beneficiaries by a large humanitarian…

3598

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of volunteers and its impact on related accountability practices towards beneficiaries by a large humanitarian non-governmental organisation (NGO) in Indonesia.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors adopted a qualitative case study design. The empirical evidence comes from rich fieldwork carried out in an Indonesian NGO. The authors collected the evidence mainly via 46 interviews and five focus groups.

Findings

The authors found that the case NGO drew heavily on the social and cultural capitals of volunteers in the process of serving its beneficiaries, which, in turn, facilitated the enhancement of its accountability to the beneficiaries. The authors also found that volunteers play a bridging role to reduce the distance between NGOs and beneficiaries.

Research limitations/implications

For NGO managers, this study provides necessary empirical evidence on the positive role played by the volunteers in the development and operationalisation of accountability to the beneficiaries. In the authors’ case, beneficiary accountability is enhanced by the social conduct and practices performed by the NGO’s numerous volunteers. Beneficiary accountability is of significant concern to the policy makers too. This study shows that volunteers and NGO can work in a reciprocal relationship where social and cultural capital can be mobilised to each other’s advantage. To facilitate beneficiary accountability, NGOs can draw on the socio-cultural capitals held by the volunteers who appear to share the same norms and expectations with the beneficiaries. This process can also lead to the building of social and cultural capital by the volunteers themselves as they achieve great satisfaction and gain valuable experience in this process that could lead to greater satisfaction in their spiritual and material lives.

Originality/value

The authors extend the previous literature on beneficiary accountability by highlighting the under-researched role of volunteers in such accountability practices. In this paper, the authors first discuss the facilitating role of volunteers in enhancing NGOs’ accountability towards beneficiaries. Then, this is illustrated empirically. In addition, the authors argue that although Bourdieusian concepts like field and capital have been widely used in the analysis of various organisational practices the concept of habitus received limited attention particularly from the context of developing countries. The authors undertake an examination of the habitus of volunteers in the Indonesian case organisation and explore their linkages with the field and associated capitals.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 32 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Open Access
Article
Publication date: 16 January 2017

Ataur Belal, Crawford Spence, Chris Carter and Jingqi Zhu

The purpose of this paper is to explore the work practices of Big 4 firms in Bangladesh with the aim of exploring the extent to which global professional service firms…

10880

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the work practices of Big 4 firms in Bangladesh with the aim of exploring the extent to which global professional service firms (GPSFs) can be thought of as being genuinely “global”.

Design/methodology/approach

Interviews were undertaken with the vast majority of Big 4 partners in Bangladesh. These interviews explored a number of themes related to the professional service work context in Bangladesh and the relationship between local and global firms.

Findings

The central finding of this paper is that although the Big 4 have a long-established presence in Bangladesh, local societal factors heavily influence the realities of work for accountants there. In most cases the Big 4 firms establish correspondent firms (instead of full member firms) in Bangladesh and tend to offer restricted service lines. Additionally, the paper identifies professional, commercial and cultural barriers to greater Big 4 involvement in the local market. Conceptually, the chief contribution of this paper is to explore how the effects of globalizing capitalism and standardised “best practices” in global professional service work are mediated through the societal effects of Bangladeshi society, resulting in the Big 4 having only a tentative presence in the Bangladeshi market.

Research limitations/implications

The findings cast doubt on the extent to which self-styled GPSFs are truly “global” in nature. Future work examining the Big 4, or accounting more generally, in the context of globalization, would do well to pay greater attention to the experience of professionals in emerging markets.

Originality/value

Whilst there has been much work looking at accounting and accountants in the context of globalization, this work has tended to privilege “core” western empirical settings. Very little is known about professional service firms in “peripheral” emerging markets. Furthermore, this study extends the application of the system, society and dominance framework by mapping the interactions and dynamics of these three sources of influence in the setting of PSFs.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 30 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 15 November 2019

Uzoechi Nwagbara and Ataur Belal

The purpose of this paper is to investigate how language (choice) in CSR reports of leading oil companies in Nigeria is used to portray an image of “responsible organisation”.

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate how language (choice) in CSR reports of leading oil companies in Nigeria is used to portray an image of “responsible organisation”.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper draws insights from communication studies (persuasion theory) and critical discourse analysis (CDA) studies to discursively unpack all those subtle and visible, yet equally invisible, linguistic strategies (micro-level elements): wording (single words), phrases and chains of words (clauses/sentences). These linguistic strategies (micro-level elements) proxy organisational discourses (meso-level elements), which are reflective of wider social practices (macro-level elements). The authors base the investigation on CSR reports of six leading oil companies in Nigeria from 2009 to 2012.

Findings

The findings of this study reveal that (leading) Nigerian oil companies linguistically use CSR reports to persuasively construct and portray the image of “responsible organisation” in the eyes of wider stakeholders (the communities) despite serious criticism of their corporate (ir) responsibility.

Originality/value

As opposed to the previous content analysis based studies, this paper contributes to the emerging stream of CDA studies on CSR reporting by providing a finer-grained linguistic analytical schema couched in Fairclough’s (2003) approach to CDA (and persuasion theory). This helps to unravel how persuasive language/discourse of responsible organisation is enacted and reproduced. The authors thus respond to the calls for theoretical plurality in CSR reporting research by introducing persuasion theory from communication studies literature which has hitherto been rarely applied.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 32 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 1 December 2009

Ataur Rahman Belal and Mahmood Momin

Purpose – Previous reviews of Corporate Social Reporting (CSR) literature have tended to focus on developed economies. The aim of this study is to extend reviews of CSR…

Abstract

Purpose – Previous reviews of Corporate Social Reporting (CSR) literature have tended to focus on developed economies. The aim of this study is to extend reviews of CSR literature to emerging economies.

Design/methodology/approach – A desk-based research method, using a classification framework of three categories.

Findings – Most CSR studies in emerging economies have concentrated on the Asia-Pacific and African regions and are descriptive in nature, used content analysis methods and measured the extent and volume of disclosures contained within the annual reports. Such studies provide indirect explanation of the reasons behind CSR adoption, but of late, a handful of studies have started to probe managerial motivations behind CSR directly through in-depth interviews finding that CSR agendas in emerging economies are largely driven by external forces, namely pressures from parent companies, international market and international agencies.

Originality/value – This is the first review and analysis of CSR studies from the emerging economy perspective. Following this analysis, the authors have identified some important future research questions.

Details

Accounting in Emerging Economies
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84950-626-7

Content available
Book part
Publication date: 17 April 2018

Abstract

Details

Sustainability Accounting
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78754-889-3

Content available
Book part
Publication date: 23 March 2017

Abstract

Details

Advances in Environmental Accounting & Management: Social and Environmental Accounting in Brazil
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78635-376-4

Content available

Abstract

Details

Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change, vol. 6 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1832-5912

Article
Publication date: 12 June 2007

Ataur Rahman Belal and David L. Owen

This paper seeks to respond to recent calls for more engagement‐based studies of corporate social reporting (CSR) practice by examining the views of corporate managers on…

6886

Abstract

Purpose

This paper seeks to respond to recent calls for more engagement‐based studies of corporate social reporting (CSR) practice by examining the views of corporate managers on the current state of, and future prospects for, social reporting in Bangladesh.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper uses a series of interviews with senior managers from 23 Bangladeshi companies representing the multinational, domestic private and public sectors.

Findings

Key findings are that the main motivation behind current reporting practice lies in a desire on the part of corporate management to manage powerful stakeholder groups, whilst perceived pressure from external forces, notably parent companies' instructions and demands from international buyers, is driving the process forward. In the latter context it appears that adoption of international social accounting standards and codes is likely to become more prevalent in the future. Reservations are expressed as to whether such a passive compliance strategy is likely to achieve much in the way of real changes in corporate behaviour, particularly when Western developed standards and codes are imposed without consideration of local cultural, economic and social factors. Indeed, such imposition could be regarded as little more than an example of the erection of non‐tariff trade barriers rather than representing any meaningful move towards empowering indigenous stakeholder groups.

Originality/value

The paper contributes to the literature on CSR in developing countries where there is a distinct lack of engagement‐based published studies.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 20 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

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