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Article
Publication date: 25 July 2019

Craig Michael Deegan

The purpose of this paper is to reflect upon the contributions made to the social and environmental accounting literature by papers that comprised a 2002 Special Issue of…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to reflect upon the contributions made to the social and environmental accounting literature by papers that comprised a 2002 Special Issue of Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal (AAAJ) entitled social and environmental reporting and its role in maintaining or creating organisational legitimacy. This paper will also provide insights into the origins of legitimacy theory as used in the social and environmental accounting literature as well as providing reflections about the strengths, and shortcomings, of the theory. Suggestions are made with respect to the ongoing application, and development, of legitimacy theory.

Design/methodology/approach

As a commentary, this paper utilises a review of the social and environmental accounting and institutional literature across a number of decades to reveal insights about the development and use of legitimacy theory as a basis to explain social and environmental reporting practices. Citation data are also used to indicate the potential impact that the papers in the 2002 Special Issue had upon subsequent research.

Findings

This commentary shows that the 2002 Special Issue is the most highly cited issue in the history of AAAJ. It also shows that individually, some of the papers in the Special Issue represent some of the most highly cited papers in the social and environmental accounting literature. The commentary provides arguments to suggest that the development of legitimacy theory is in need of further refinement, and suggests a way in which this refinement might take place.

Research limitations/implications

This paper is largely based on the opinions of one researcher, and the evidence presented in the paper is selected on the basis that it is deemed sufficient to support the opinions being projected. The paper also relies on citation data as an indicator of “impact”. The implication of the research is that it identifies a “way forward” for the development of theory applicable to the understanding of organisational social and environmental reporting practices.

Originality/value

The study provides evidence to show that the 2002 Special Issue was significant within the context of AAAJ, and also within the context of the evolution of the social and environmental accounting literature. The description of the history of the development of legitimacy theory, and of the theory’s subsequent application, provides a solid impetus for future refinements to the theory.

Details

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

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Article
Publication date: 1 August 2002

Craig Deegan

This paper serves as an introduction to this special issue of Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal; an issue which embraces themes associated with social and…

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Abstract

This paper serves as an introduction to this special issue of Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal; an issue which embraces themes associated with social and environmental reporting (SAR) and its role in maintaining or creating organisational legitimacy. In an effort to place this research in context the paper begins by making reference to contemporary trends occurring in social and environmental accounting research generally, and this is then followed by an overview of some of the many research questions which are currently being addressed in the area. Understanding motivations for disclosure is shown to be one of the issues attracting considerable research attention, and the desire to legitimise an organisation’s operations is in turn shown to be one of the many possible motivations. The role of legitimacy theory in explaining managers’ decisions is then discussed and it is emphasised that legitimacy theory, as it is currently used, must still be considered to be a relatively under‐developed theory of managerial behaviour. Nevertheless, it is argued that the theory provides useful insights. Finally, the paper indicates how the other papers in this issue of AAAJ contribute to the ongoing development of legitimacy theory in SAR research.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 15 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 1 August 2002

Craig Deegan, Michaela Rankin and John Tobin

This study examines the social and environmental disclosures of BHP Ltd (one of the largest Australian companies) from 1983 to 1997 to ascertain the extent and type of…

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Abstract

This study examines the social and environmental disclosures of BHP Ltd (one of the largest Australian companies) from 1983 to 1997 to ascertain the extent and type of annual report social and environmental disclosures over the period, and whether such disclosures can be explained by the concepts of a social contract and legitimacy theory. This research is also motivated by the opportunity to compare and contrast results with those of Guthrie and Parker, in whose study the social and environmental disclosures made by BHP Ltd were also the focus of analysis. In testing the relationship between community concern for particular social and environmental issues (as measured by the extent of media attention), and BHP’s annual report disclosures on the same issues, significant positive correlations were obtained for the general themes of environment and human resources as well as for various sub‐issues within these, and other, themes. Additional testing also supported the view that management release positive social and environmental information in response to unfavourable media attention. Such results lend support to legitimation motives for a company’s social and environmental disclosures. A trend in providing greater social and environmental information in the annual report of BHP in recent years, and its variable pattern, was also evidenced.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 15 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 1 May 1996

Craig Deegan and Michaela Rankin

Within Australia there is ageneral absence of professional or legislative rules requiring companies to provide information relating to their environmental performance or…

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Abstract

Within Australia there is ageneral absence of professional or legislative rules requiring companies to provide information relating to their environmental performance or any environmental initiatives undertaken. Previous research studies have shown that many firms present environmental information, but only tend to present information which is favourable to their corporate image. Investigates the environmental reporting practices of a sample of 20 Australian companies which were subject to successful prosecution by the New South Wales, and Victorian Environmental Protection Authorities, during the period 1990‐1993. Indicates a significant increase in the reporting of favourable environmental information surrounding environmental prosecution. Further, the amount of positive environmental information significantly outweighed the negative environmental information presented, which was interesting given that it is clear that the firms studied did have bad news to report. The existence of a proven environmental offence was reported by only two of the companies within the sample. Raises issues as to whether information about a proven environmental offence is “material” to account users and, if so, whether financial statements could be construed as being misleading in the absence of such information.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 9 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 1 October 1997

Craig Deegan and Michaela Rankin

Reports on the results of a survey of various groups of annual report users as to the importance, or “materiality”, of environmental information to decisions they may wish…

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Abstract

Reports on the results of a survey of various groups of annual report users as to the importance, or “materiality”, of environmental information to decisions they may wish to make. Also investigates how environmental information is ranked in importance relative to various other items of social and financial information. The user groups surveyed comprise shareholders, accounting academics, stockbrokers and financial analysts, financial institutions, environmental lobby groups, industry associations and other groups performing a review or oversight function. Reports the results which indicate that the majority of the annual report users surveyed believe environmental information to be material to their decisions, and that they seek the disclosure of this information in corporate annual reports. Although the results show that the users typically believe that environmental information is material, they further indicate that the majority of the user groups rank environmental information behind traditional financial information such as profits, net assets, cash flows, and dividend payments.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 10 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 1 August 2008

Muhammad Azizul Islam and Craig Deegan

The aim of the paper is to describe and explain, using a combination of interviews and content analysis, the social and environmental reporting practices of a major…

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10477

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of the paper is to describe and explain, using a combination of interviews and content analysis, the social and environmental reporting practices of a major garment export organisation within a developing country.

Design/methodology/approach

Senior executives from a major organisation in Bangladesh are interviewed to determine the pressures being exerted on them in terms of their social and environmental performance. The perceptions of pressures are then used to explain – via content analysis – changing social and environmental disclosure practices.

Findings

The results show that particular stakeholder groups have, since the early 1990s, placed pressure on the Bangladeshi clothing industry in terms of its social performance. This pressure, which is also directly related to the expectations of the global community, in turn drives the industry's social policies and related disclosure practices.

Research limitations/implications

The findings show that, within the context of a developing country, unless we consider the managers' perceptions about the social and environmental expectations being imposed upon them by powerful stakeholder groups then we will be unable to understand organisational disclosure practices.

Originality/value

This paper is the first known paper to interview managers from a large organisation in a developing country about changing stakeholder expectations and then link these changing expectations to annual report disclosures across an extended period of analysis.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 21 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 1 April 2006

Craig Deegan, Barry J. Cooper and Marita Shelly

The purpose of this paper is to document a study of European and UK triple bottom line (TBL) report assurance statements.

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3218

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to document a study of European and UK triple bottom line (TBL) report assurance statements.

Design/methodology/approach

In undertaking the research, an international database was constructed from which all known European and UK third‐party assurance statements that accompanied the release of TBL reports were selected for review.

Findings

The results of the analysis indicate that there is much variability and ambiguity inherent within the contents of the third‐party statements.

Research limitations/implications

The UK and European reports included within the database compiled by the researchers provide the basis of the information used to develop this paper. In selecting assurance statements to include within the database, the latest TBL report from each reporting organization was obtained (and it should be appreciated that many organizations do not produce TBL reports on an annual basis). Of the 170 reports available internationally at the time the research was undertaken, 8 are from 2000, 86 from 2001, 65 from 2002, and 11 from 2003. Whilst the database is the most extensive one of its type, given the finite nature of resources available, it is stressed that the database is not exhaustive.

Practical implications

Taken together, the results of this analysis lead us to question the value that such assurance statements provide to the TBL reporting process.

Originality/value

Assesses the ambiguity and questions the value of assurance work on TBL statements as currently being undertaken.

Details

Managerial Auditing Journal, vol. 21 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0268-6902

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Article
Publication date: 1 February 1998

Geoffrey R. Frost and Trevor D. Wilmshurst

A growing concern for environmental issues has resulted in calls for improvement in corporate environmental performance. In Australia, as elsewhere, this has involved the…

Abstract

A growing concern for environmental issues has resulted in calls for improvement in corporate environmental performance. In Australia, as elsewhere, this has involved the discussion as to the role of accounting and accountants in environmental management (Burritt and Gibson, 1993; Hrisak, 1995). This paper reports on the adoption of environmental accounting practices by Australian companies. Using a survey instrument, information was collected on the existence and development of environmental accounting processes within Top 500 Australian companies. The results indicate that many companies are utilising internal systems for the generation of environmental accounting data; however there appears to be a limited translation of the internal accounting information into external environmental reporting, despite a belief by many respondents that such information is useful to users of the annual report.

Details

Asian Review of Accounting, vol. 6 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1321-7348

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Article
Publication date: 10 February 2012

Roger L. Burritt

The purpose of this paper is to provide comment on the contribution of the Environmental performance accountability special issue of Accounting, Auditing & Accountability

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6675

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide comment on the contribution of the Environmental performance accountability special issue of Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal published in 1997 towards the innovation through a personal reflection developed from the perceived need to move academics and practitioners into the same space on environmental improvement by organisations. In addition, the paper will offer future directions for environmental performance accountability research, including the potential for tools such as integrated reporting, the need for theoretical pragmatism and importance of a transdisciplinary approach to research.

Design/methodology/approach

The diegetic method used for this article allowed for the provision of a narrative about actions, characters and events of interest to an audience. This method facilitated the intersection between the biographical and the historical content and context, and a hypodiegesis provided the ability for an embedded story within the larger history. The approach allowed for a hypodiegetic as the story within the story of developing the relationships between academic accountants and practitioners.

Findings

Contained in the special issue is a set of articles marking the extremes of academic and practitioner perspectives on what is broadly termed environmental performance and accountability. Review of the content of the special issue reveals that the bias is towards academic rather than practitioner appreciation. Review of the context providing the setting for the special issue shows the need for publishers to engage in the social media mechanisms needed to commence dialogue and convey the messages of academics to practitioners.

Research limitations/implications

Subjective assessment is overtly recognized rather than subsumed in the research methods adopted.

Practical implications

The embedding of articles in special issues within a broader communications portfolio for practitioner understanding is suggested.

Originality/value

The nature of the personal reflection means that thoughts recorded are novel and unique.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 25 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Book part
Publication date: 27 January 2014

Ionel-Alin Ienciu

The purpose of this chapter is to contribute to the understanding of environmental reporting differences in the case of Romanian entities. In order to achieve this…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this chapter is to contribute to the understanding of environmental reporting differences in the case of Romanian entities. In order to achieve this purpose, we analyze environmental reporting differences for Romanian listed companies using legitimacy theory as a theoretical background.

Design/methodology/approach

We conduct a quantitative research on the Romanian entities listed on the Bucharest Stock Exchange (BSE).

Findings

The quality and quantity of environmental information reported by Romanian company still suffer from irrelevancy and incompleteness. The factors explaining the variation of environmental reporting in the case of Romanian listed companies are the export sales percentage, the BSE category, and size of the company, which demonstrate that larger companies tend to disclose more environmental information to respond to the pressure and to maintain their legitimacy.

Research limitations/implications

The present study uses the content analysis as a research technique of 64 annual reports of Romania listed entities on the BSE. In this regard, a limitation of the study can be the sample size that can be extended and also the content analysis that can be considered subjective.

Practical and social implications

The chapter is of interest to anyone involved in the process of environmental disclosure, either as entity or other stakeholders.

Originality/value

The chapter supplements previous studies regarding environmental disclosure and the theories or factors that can explain environmental reporting differences.

Details

Accounting in Central and Eastern Europe
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78190-939-3

Keywords

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