Accountants’ involvement in environmental and sustainability management has merely been investigated to date. With the continuous take-up of sustainability issues by…
Accountants’ involvement in environmental and sustainability management has merely been investigated to date. With the continuous take-up of sustainability issues by companies and with the growing experience companies gain in dealing with this topic, this chapter raises the question whether accountants are involved in a way different than previously reported and if yes, what their role is in social accounting practice.
Based on 58 interviews with corporate practitioners, this chapter firstly explores the roles involved in the social accounting practice in companies which are considered to be leading in sustainability reporting in the United Kingdom and Germany. Secondly, the role of professional accountants is analysed from a power theory perspective.
The main findings suggest that professional accountants are partially involved in social accounting practice but mainly exert a gatekeeping role between sustainability managers and higher management.
Investigating the observed behaviour empirically can help improve social accounting. Should it turn out that the accountants have no other option but to act like gatekeepers, accounting education will play a major role in overcoming this deficiency in the pursuit of improved sustainability knowledge and performance. If, on the other hand, it is the defensive stance of accounting professionals and the fear of losing power in corporate structures which motivates them to act as gatekeepers, mechanisms to motivate them to cooperate should be researched.
Value of chapter
The chapter empirically investigates and discusses the accountant’s contribution to sustainability information management. This can help overcome organisational challenges impeding companies to successfully implement sustainability measures.
This chapter intends to contribute to the debate on the determinants of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and their impact on performance measurement and communication…
This chapter intends to contribute to the debate on the determinants of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and their impact on performance measurement and communication systems. It aims at analyzing the relationship between the reasons why firms adopt CSR and the importance given to voluntary CSR disclosure.
Two main categories of CSR determinants have been identified: the external ones, coming from the environment outside the firm, and the internal determinants, which are linked to some specific characteristics of the enterprise and to the objectives it pursues.
The analyzed sample consists of 120 large Italian manufacturing and nonmanufacturing enterprises. The research hypotheses concerning the relationship between external and internal determinants of CSR and CSR disclosure were verified using an independent sample t-test, evaluating the equal variances of clusters using the Levene’s test.
Main results point out that in companies giving importance to CSR disclosure, the internal drivers are more relevant than the external ones in determining the attitude toward CSR. Among the internal determinants, drivers related to company and management values and ethics are quite relevant.
This study is subject to the limitations that generally apply to cross-sectional survey-based research.
Originality/Value of chapter
Our research findings show that legitimacy theory represents the most relevant theory in explaining CSR disclosure practices of Italian large firms, as well as the operational implementation of stakeholder theory, such as stakeholder management. On the contrary, institutional theory only partially explains CSR disclosure, with respect to the pressures coming from financial markets.
Increasingly, U.S. firms voluntarily issue standalone corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports to demonstrate to society a commitment to social and environmental…
Increasingly, U.S. firms voluntarily issue standalone corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports to demonstrate to society a commitment to social and environmental activities (Bebbington, Larrinaga, & Moneva, 2008; Erusalimsky, Gray, & Spence, 2006). To ascertain the effect of standalone CSR reports on investors, we compared the association between CSR performance scores and subsequent stock returns for firms that issue standalone CSR reports versus those that do not. Consistent with a signaling perspective (Akerlof, 1970), we found that firms that voluntarily issue standalone CSR reports have a stronger association between total CSR and CSR strengths and subsequent stock returns than firms that do not. Our findings indicated that investors are relying on standalone CSR reports because they reward CSR performance for firms that issue standalone CSR reports CSR performance for those that do not issue standalone CSR reports.
This study aims to investigate the relationship between corporate social contribution measures and investors’ reaction under the effect of corporate governance for firms…
This study aims to investigate the relationship between corporate social contribution measures and investors’ reaction under the effect of corporate governance for firms listed in China, the largest emerging economy in the world. Corporate social contribution is examined from an informative perspective by using a financial indicator – social contribution value per share (SCVPS) brought up by the Shanghai Stock Exchange in 2008.
Data are obtained from two channels: financial information during 2007-2015 generated from database and social accounting information manually collected from the 2007-2015 annual reports and social reports.
It is predicted that investors’ reaction toward corporate social contribution becomes stronger for companies with higher corporate governance quality.
This paper is one of the first to use Chinese SCVPS data to indicate the informativeness of social contribution toward firm value. It can serve as a valuable reference to both investors and companies in terms of the issue of social contribution.
The study highlights the importance of social contribution on firm value by using an empirical approach in the Chinese market. The study can be used as a reference for many other developing countries in the world.
The findings of this study can provide guidance to investors on how to evaluate a firm’s social performance and encourage companies to improve the transparency of their social reporting, as well as the quality of corporate governance.
Critique originated by earlier theorization of environmental accounting, as a way of building environmentalist visibility of business, led Gray et al., to study…
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.
Reviews 25 years of social and environmental accounting literature in an attempt to evaluate the position and answer the question posed in the title, as well as to provide…
Reviews 25 years of social and environmental accounting literature in an attempt to evaluate the position and answer the question posed in the title, as well as to provide a structure or classification for others to use. In order to structure the task, uses three time periods: 1971‐1980; 1981‐1990; and 1991‐1995, and classifies the literature into several sub‐groups including empirical studies, normative statements, philosophical discussion, non‐accounting literature, teaching programmes and textbooks, regulatory frameworks, and other reviews. Attempts, after the classification, to synthesize an overall chronological position. Concludes that there is something to celebrate after 25 years. However, the continued success of this field is dependent on a relatively small number of researchers, writers, and specialized journals without which there would be the danger of a collapse of interest and a loss of what has been gained so far. Consequently, the provision of a place in the advanced undergraduate and graduate curriculum is a major task for the next decade. Argues that appropriately qualified and motivated professionals are needed to contribute to environmental policy and management in both the public and private sectors. However, appropriate educational programmes have not been evident to date.
This study examines social responsibility information disclosure on the Internet by Portuguese listed companies in 2003 and also analyses annual reports as a disclosure…
This study examines social responsibility information disclosure on the Internet by Portuguese listed companies in 2003 and also analyses annual reports as a disclosure medium for those companies which disclose such information on their web pages. The results are interpreted through the lens of legitimacy theory, according to which companies disclose social responsibility information to present a socially responsible image so that they can legitimise their behaviours to their stakeholder groups. Companies in sectors that have a larger potential impact on the environment or in industries with a high visibility among consumers seem to exhibit greater concern to improve the corporate image through social responsibility information disclosure. Results thus suggest that legitimacy theory may be an explanation of social responsibility disclosure by Portuguese listed companies.
There are still many different theoretical approaches and practical interpretations about what an integrated report is. Starting from this premise, the overall purpose of…
There are still many different theoretical approaches and practical interpretations about what an integrated report is. Starting from this premise, the overall purpose of this chapter is to critically analyze the relationship between integrated reporting (IR) and social/sustainability disclosure. Indeed, although some scholars considered IR as a tool to improve the sustainability approach of the companies allowing to disclose more relevant social information, others are more critical about the potentiality of IR to improve social disclosure. Therefore, the general research question is: Is there a natural link between IR and social disclosure (true love) or is the IR a practice to “normalize” the social disclosure and accounting (forced marriage)?
In the attempt to provide a preliminary answer to the research question, the chapter analyzes what is the approach of three categories: (1) academics; (2) soft-regulators; and (3) companies. From the methodological point of view, a mixed method of analysis has been adopted.
From the analysis of the three different points of view, IR can be considered as a “contested concept” because of the heterogeneous and sometimes conflicting interpretations and implementation that are done on this type of report. This leads to relevant theoretical and practical implications.
Although accounting professors around the globe have addressed various social aspects of accounting, very rarely does that research address the concerns of students. This…
Although accounting professors around the globe have addressed various social aspects of accounting, very rarely does that research address the concerns of students. This is despite the fact that students are the focus of the educational mission of most universities. In an effort to address this gap, this chapter extends the field of social accounting to an issue critical to students: the cost of accounting textbooks in the United States. Textbook cost is drawing increasing attention from public interest groups and government regulators as costs are growing at a more rapid rate than many other costs, and constitute a significant portion of the total cost of obtaining a higher education degree. For accounting students, these costs are exacerbated by the fact that accounting textbooks are among the most expensive of any major, and they are being revised with increasing frequency – which eliminates students’ ability to buy less expensive used books – often with little or no discernible benefit to students. We argue that in some subfields of accounting – especially managerial/cost and introductory courses – topics are relatively stable, and that frequent textbook revisions are unnecessarily costly for our students, many of whom, along with their families, are making significant financial sacrifices to earn their degrees. In this study, we provide background on the textbook pricing issue, include data from a survey of accounting faculty demonstrating that they consider the revisions too frequent, document the increasing frequency of accounting textbook revisions over recent decades, analyze content in a leading accounting textbook, and discuss options for reducing the cost of accounting textbooks, including following student activists’ lead in advocating for open-source, free textbooks.