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Article
Publication date: 21 August 2019

Nicolas Garcia-Torea, Carlos Larrinaga and Mercedes Luque-Vílchez

This paper aims to document and discuss the involvement of a group of Spanish academics in the process of social and environmental reporting regulation to reflect on the…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to document and discuss the involvement of a group of Spanish academics in the process of social and environmental reporting regulation to reflect on the role of accounting academics in regulatory processes.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper describes the long-standing engagement of a group of Spanish scholars in social and environmental reporting regulation, with a particular focus on the transposition of the EU Directive 2014/95/EU on non-financial information to the Spanish legislation.

Findings

Despite failures and mistakes in the engagement history of those scholars with different regulatory processes, academics problematized social and environmental reporting regulation, bridged the gap between regulation and practice, and facilitated the debate about social and environmental reporting. This long-term and collective engagement generated the intellectual capital that allowed researchers to provide their perspectives when the Spanish political process was ripe to move such regulation in a progressive direction.

Practical implications

The paper remarks two important aspects that, according to the reported experience, are required for academics to engage in social and environmental reporting regulation: developing long-standing research projects that enable the accumulation of intellectual capital to effectively intervene in regulatory processes when the opportunity arises; and nurturing epistemic communities seeking to promote corporate accountability was fundamental to circulate ideas and foster the connection between academics and policymakers. This long-term and collective perspective is at odds with current forms of research assessment.

Social implications

Academics have a responsibility to intervene in regulatory processes to increase corporate transparency.

Originality/value

The experience reported is unique and the authors have first-hand information. It spans through two decades and extracts some conclusions that could feed further discussions about engagement and, hopefully, encourage scholars to develop significant research projects.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 11 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 24 June 2019

Carol A. Adams and Carlos Larrinaga

The purpose of this paper is to review the development of engagement research in pursuit of improved sustainability accounting and performance and to identify issues in…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to review the development of engagement research in pursuit of improved sustainability accounting and performance and to identify issues in the further development of this field. In particular, the authors consider the implications of this research for practice, policy and theory following the publication of a special issue on the topic in 2007 in the Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors performed a systematic review of the relevant literature in selected accounting journals for the 11 year period 2007–2017 inclusive. The authors identified the methods, topics and theories addressed by researchers and the academic journals that are more likely to publish engagement research.

Findings

The authors found a significant increase in engagement work over the decade since publication of the special issue and a marked increase in the volume and complexity of data collected in studies. There is a marked difference in the openness of different journals to engagement research and the type of engagement research published across accounting journals. Contrary to the argument made by critics of engagement research the authors found that this field of research not only uses theory, but develops theory.

Research limitations/implications

Through the examination of methods and theories used and topics considered, the authors identify avenues for further research – and the journals likely to be receptive to it.

Practical implications

The study demonstrates that the collective body of engagement research aimed at improving sustainability accounting and performance has significant potential to inform practice and policy developments with the same aim.

Originality/value

The study examines an emerging approach in an emerging field of research with significant academic, practice and policy potential.

Details

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

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 12 November 2019

Jan Bebbington, Henrik Österblom, Beatrice Crona, Jean-Baptiste Jouffray, Carlos Larrinaga, Shona Russell and Bert Scholtens

The purpose of this paper is to interrogate the nature and relevance of debates around the existence of, and ramifications arising from, the Anthropocene for accounting…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to interrogate the nature and relevance of debates around the existence of, and ramifications arising from, the Anthropocene for accounting scholarship.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper’s aim is achieved through an in-depth analysis of the Anthropocene, paying attention to cross-disciplinary contributions, interpretations and contestations. Possible points of connection between the Anthropocene and accounting scholarship are then proposed and illuminated through a case study drawn from the seafood sector.

Findings

This paper develops findings in two areas. First, possible pathways for further development of how accounting scholarship might evolve by the provocation that thinking about the Anthropocene is outlined. Second, and through engagement with the case study, the authors highlight that the concept of stewardship may re-emerge in discussions about accountability in the Anthropocene.

Research limitations/implications

The paper argues that accounting scholarship focused on social, environmental and sustainability concerns may be further developed by engagement with Anthropocene debates.

Practical implications

While accounting practice might have to change to deal with Anthropocene induced effects, this paper focuses on implications for accounting scholarship.

Social implications

Human well-being is likely to be impacted if environmental impacts accelerate. In addition, an Anthropocene framing alters the understanding of nature–human interactions and how this affects accounting thought.

Originality/value

This is the first paper in accounting to seek to establish connections between accounting, accountability and the Anthropocene.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 33 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 7 May 2021

Carlos Larrinaga and Jan Bebbington

The aim of this paper is to provide an account of the period prior to the creation of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI): a body that was critical to the…

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to provide an account of the period prior to the creation of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI): a body that was critical to the institutionalization of sustainability reporting (SR). By examining this “pre-history,” we bring to light the actors, activities and ways of thinking that made SR more likely to be institutionalized once the GRI entrepreneurship came to the fore.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper revisits a time period (the 1990s) that has yet to be formally written about in any depth and traces the early development of what became SR. This material is examined using a constructivist understanding of regulation.

Findings

The authors contend that a convergence of actors and structural conditions were pivotal to the development of SR. Specifically, this paper demonstrates that a combination of actors (such as epistemic communities, carriers, regulators and reporters) as well as the presence of certain conditions (such as the societal context, analogies with financial reporting, environmental reporting and reporting design issues) contributed to the development of SR which was consolidated (as well as extended) in 1999 with the advent of the GRI.

Research limitations/implications

This paper theorizes (through a historical analysis) how SR is sustained by a network of institutional actors and conditions which can assist reflection on future SR development.

Originality/value

This paper brings together empirical material from a time that (sadly) is passing from living memory. The paper also extends the use of a conceptual frame that is starting to influence scholarship in accounting that seeks to understand how norms develop.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 34 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 1 July 2020

Carla Antonini, Cornelia Beck and Carlos Larrinaga

This paper explores the subpolitical role and main characteristics of a specific accounting technique, sustainability reporting boundaries. Its focus is on how the…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper explores the subpolitical role and main characteristics of a specific accounting technique, sustainability reporting boundaries. Its focus is on how the sett2ing of sustainability reporting boundaries affects the definition and distribution of social risks along the supply chain, particularly the risks related to working condition and human rights.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper draws on Beck's (1986) exploration of the ways in which techno-economic spheres offer opportunities for the politicisation of new areas. It is argued that the sphere of sustainability reporting offers that opportunity for the politicisation of supply chains. Using the case of Inditex, the historical context of initiatives relating to the ready-made garment (RMG) industry at global, European and industry level as well as media coverage on the entity are analysed; this is correlated with the analysis of boundary setting in relation to sustainability reports, focusing specifically on working conditions.

Findings

The analysis suggests that accounting technologies that set contested boundaries are subpolitical, that is, defined outside traditional political processes. The paper finds that the way social risks are framed along the supply chain renders them invisible and impersonal and that the framing of these risks becomes endless as they are contested by different groups of experts. Setting sustainability reporting boundaries has subpolitical properties in producing and framing those risks, whilst is simultaneously limited by the inherent politicisation of such an exercise. The questionable legitimacy of sustainability reporting boundaries calls for the construction not only of discursive justifications but also of new possibilities for political participation.

Research limitations/implications

The analysis is limited to working conditions along one organisation's supply chain.

Originality/value

The contribution of this paper is threefold: (1) It studies in-depth how working conditions in global supply chains are portrayed in sustainability reports. (2) It answers the call to study accounting technologies themselves, in this case sustainability reporting boundaries. (3) It extends Beck's work on global ecological dangers to working conditions in global supply chains to explore how sustainability reporting boundaries are subpolitically involved in the definition and distribution of social risks along the supply chain.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 33 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 27 June 2019

Pablo Rodríguez-Gutiérrez, Carmen Correa and Carlos Larrinaga

This paper aims to generate insights about the transformative potential of integrated reporting by exploring organisational adoption of non-financial reporting design…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to generate insights about the transformative potential of integrated reporting by exploring organisational adoption of non-financial reporting design archetypes available in the field.

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing on the concept of design archetype, this study conducts an exploratory interpretative based on qualitative semi-structured interviews and documentary analysis. The study is based on the Spanish integrated reporting field.

Findings

This study reveals that IIRC framework lacks the transformative potential to become an environmental disturbance for corporate reporting practice. It explains how organisations, in their attempt to seek coherence with underlying interpretative schemes, change their structural arrangements (structure, processes and systems) to adopt sustainability and integrated reporting design archetypes available in the field. Though organisational differences are portrayed, the transition from a sustainability-reporting archetype to an integrated-reporting archetype does not seem to be easily achieved.

Research limitations/implications

Due to its exploratory nature, further investigation of the transformative potential of integrated reporting is needed to address intra-organisational factors such as internal stakeholder interests, organisational values, individual or collective agency to embed interpretative schemes into structural arrangements, and technical and managerial capabilities enabling action.

Practical implications

Findings inform practitioners and policymakers about the hindrances to integrated reporting implementation to be considered for prospective regulation and standardisation.

Social implications

The study reflects on the difficulties for both mainstreaming sustainability to influence decision-making and developing reporting archetypes coherent with integrated thinking.

Originality/value

By focusing on archetype design, the paper provides insights to assess the transformative potential of integrated reporting.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 10 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 6 February 2019

Mercedes Luque-Vílchez, Enrique Mesa-Pérez, Javier Husillos and Carlos Larrinaga

The purpose of this paper is to examine in greater depth the influence of internal factors on the disclosure of environmental information by companies. The influence of…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine in greater depth the influence of internal factors on the disclosure of environmental information by companies. The influence of pro-environmental managers´ personal values on environmental disclosure quality is analyzed and the extent to which the influence of those values is mediated by the practices associated with the environmental organizational structure of the company.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors use a partial least squares structural equation model to analyze the relationship between the quality of the environmental information disclosed by 137 environmentally sensitive Spanish firms, their level of commitment towards the environment and the personal values of the directors in charge of those reports.

Findings

A central finding of this work is that a positive relationship between the pro-environmental managers’ personal values and environmental disclosure quality is fully mediated by the environmental organizational structures of their companies.

Practical implications

A better understanding of the relationship between the personal values of managers and corporate environmental reporting quality will contribute to the design of policies that can enhance firm transparency and accountability, for example, by educating future managers in sustainability values.

Social implications

Light is cast on the mechanisms that can enhance corporate transparency and accountability in relation to environmental matters.

Originality/value

In this paper, a quantitative study of the internal driving forces of environmental disclosure is conducted, an aspect that has often been ignored in the literature on quantitative voluntary social reporting. The merit of this approach is its contribution to the literature through the analysis of the reasons why powerful actors within firms could (or could not) develop corporate social reporting practices.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 10 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 1 May 2001

Carlos Larrinaga‐González, Francisco Carrasco‐Fenech, Francisco Javier Caro‐González, Carmen Correa‐Ruíz and José María Páez‐Sandubete

Critique originated by earlier theorization of environmental accounting, as a way of building environmentalist visibility of business, led Gray et al., to study…

Abstract

Critique originated by earlier theorization of environmental accounting, as a way of building environmentalist visibility of business, led Gray et al., to study environmental accounting in the dynamics of organizational change. They concluded that environmental accounting is being used to “negotiate the conception of the environment” by companies that have not significantly changed. In order to investigate whether Gray et al.’s model and conclusions apply to a different cultural context, we have conducted nine case studies in Spain. We found that Spanish organizations are not truly changing their conventional perception of the environment, even in those cases where generalized structural and organizational changes are taking place. Moreover, the use of environmental accounting is coupled with an attempt to negotiate and control the environmental agenda.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 14 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Abstract

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 19 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 12 June 2007

Carol A. Adams and Carlos Larrinaga‐González

The purpose of this paper is to present a case for research in ethical, social and environmental (or sustainability) accounting and accountability which engages with those…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present a case for research in ethical, social and environmental (or sustainability) accounting and accountability which engages with those organisations claiming to manage and report their sustainability performance. In addition, the paper reviews the contributions in this special issue.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper provides an analysis and critique of the extent of engagement research in the field of sustainability accounting and accountability. It draws on the fields of management, management accounting and critical accounting to present a case for further research engagement with sustainability accounting and accountability practice.

Findings

The paper finds that the extant literature in the field of sustainability accounting and reporting, in contrast to the fields of management accounting and management, has largely ignored practice within organisations. The lack of “engaging research” is found to be due to concerns about increasing the breadth of participants in the social accounting agenda and “managerial capture”. The paper argues that further research engaging with organisations is needed in order to identify how accounting and management systems might reduce their negative sustainability impacts. The paper argues that such research can benefit from the methodological and theoretical insights of other disciplines.

Research limitations/implications

The paper suggests where further contributions might be made by future research endeavours engaging with organisations.

Practical implications

Engagement research in sustainability accounting and reporting has the potential to improve theorizing, practice and the sustainability performance of organisations.

Originality/value

Drawing on the methods and theories of other disciplines and the papers in the special issue, the paper presents a way forward for researchers engaging with organisations practicing sustainability accounting and reporting.

Details

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

Keywords

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