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Article
Publication date: 28 July 2021

David Collison

This paper aims to pay tribute to Rob Gray’s achievements at the University of Dundee in the 1990s – a significant period in the development of the field of social and…

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133

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to pay tribute to Rob Gray’s achievements at the University of Dundee in the 1990s – a significant period in the development of the field of social and environmental accounting research.

Design/methodology/approach

Memories and reflections.

Findings

A personal perception of Rob’s drive, motivations and generosity of spirit.

Originality/value

A portrayal of someone who deserves to be remembered for what he accomplished, and for the collegiate and supportive example he set for others in pursuing social and environmental awareness and responsibility.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 12 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

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Article
Publication date: 17 December 2019

Massimo Contrafatto, John Ferguson, David Power, Lorna Stevenson and David Collison

The purpose of this paper is to provide a theoretically informed analysis of a struggle for power over the regulation of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and social…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide a theoretically informed analysis of a struggle for power over the regulation of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and social and environmental accounting and reporting (SEAR) within the European Union.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper combines insights from institutional theory (Lawrence and Buchanan, 2017) with Vaara et al.’s (2006) and Vaara and Tienar’s (2008) discursive strategies approach in order to interrogate the dynamics of the institutional “arena” that emerged in 2001, following the European Commission’s publication of a Green Paper (GP) on CSR policy and reporting. Drawing on multiple sources of data (including newspaper coverage, semi-structured interviews and written submissions by companies and NGOs), the authors analyse the institutional political strategies employed by companies and NGOs – two of the key stakeholder groupings who sought to influence the dynamics and outcome of the European initiative.

Findings

The results show that the 2001 GP was a “triggering event” (Hoffman, 1999) that led to the formation of the institutional arena that centred on whether CSR policy and reporting should be voluntary or mandatory. The findings highlight how two separate, but related forms of power (systemic and episodic power) were exercised much more effectively by companies compared to NGOs. The analysis of the power initiatives and discursive strategies deployed in the arena provides a theoretically informed understanding of the ways in which companies acted in concert to reach their objective of maintaining CSR and SEAR as a voluntary activity.

Originality/value

The theoretical framework outlined in the paper highlights how the analysis of CSR and SEAR regulation can be enriched by examining the deployment of episodic and systemic power by relevant actors.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 33 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 26 October 2010

David Collison, Colin Dey, Gwen Hannah and Lorna Stevenson

This paper seeks to consider the impact and potential impact of social accounting at the macro level. It aims to explore the potential for “silent” or “shadow” social…

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5178

Abstract

Purpose

This paper seeks to consider the impact and potential impact of social accounting at the macro level. It aims to explore the potential for “silent” or “shadow” social accounting to hold Anglo‐American capitalism to account for its social outcomes relative to other “varieties of capitalism”.

Design/methodology/approach

The role of accounting in spreading Anglo‐American capitalist values is outlined. This is followed by a discussion of macro social indicators and their potential to problematise social outcomes. In particular the paper reports on, and updates, an investigation of comparative child mortality figures in wealthy countries that appeared in the medical literature. This evidence is used both as an exemplar and as a substantive issue in its own right.

Findings

The specific empirical evidence reported, based on a cross‐sectional and longitudinal analysis of child mortality and its relationship to income inequality, exemplifies the consistently poor and relatively worsening performance of the Anglo‐American capitalist model. A rationale, and evidence, is also presented for the potential of such social reporting to act as an accountability mechanism.

Originality/value

The paper introduces to the accounting literature specific evidence of poor social outcomes associated with Anglo‐American capitalism. It considers the wider potential role of social indicators, as a component of silent and shadow reporting at a macro‐level, in problematising dominant forms of economic and social organisation.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 23 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 1 December 2003

David J. Collison

This paper examines the nature of propaganda and its use by corporations, particularly in the USA, over a period of nearly 100 years. It emphasises the invisibility of…

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5116

Abstract

This paper examines the nature of propaganda and its use by corporations, particularly in the USA, over a period of nearly 100 years. It emphasises the invisibility of much of this activity and propaganda’s importance for shaping acquiescence in corporate hegemony. The role played by corporate propaganda in the development of different forms of capitalism is addressed. The inculcation of accounting and finance students with values that serve corporate interests is considered: in this context propaganda is inferred in both the longstanding misrepresentation of Adam Smith, and the sustained illusion of competitive “free markets”. The role and language of the business media as a form of propaganda is considered, particularly regarding colonisation of social market economies by Anglo‐Saxon capitalism, which takes as incontestable the maximisation of shareholder value as the proper and necessary aim of corporate activity. It is argued that corporate propaganda has contributed to the accounting measure of business success being justified as an end in itself at the explicit expense of wider societal considerations.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 16 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 1 May 1991

Rob Gray and David Collison

Environmental audit, although a widely used term, can cover amultitude of different activities. In any of its guises, though, it isstill a prerequisite to taking a serious…

Abstract

Environmental audit, although a widely used term, can cover a multitude of different activities. In any of its guises, though, it is still a prerequisite to taking a serious position on environmental issues. The different definitions of, and approaches to, environmental audit are outlined and the pressures which encourage their use are discussed. However, UK companies are not yet adopting a substantial response to the environmental crisis when perhaps as many as 80 per cent of the UK′s largest companies have yet to undertake an initial environmental audit.

Details

Managerial Auditing Journal, vol. 6 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0268-6902

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Article
Publication date: 2 January 2009

David Collison, George Cobb, David Power and Lorna Stevenson

The purpose of the paper is to critically evaluate membership of the FTSE4Good “socially responsible investment” indices (membership of which is based on ethical…

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3196

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of the paper is to critically evaluate membership of the FTSE4Good “socially responsible investment” indices (membership of which is based on ethical criteria), which were launched in the UK in July 2001 as a means of increased accountability and change.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper adopts an interpretive and critical approach when examining the perceptions of company representatives. The empirical findings are based on a small number of interviews and a postal questionnaire. Some descriptive and inferential statistics are used to summarise and help interpret the questionnaire results.

Findings

Respondents indicated that inclusion in the indices had a significant effect on their firms' reputation, and on relationships with specific stakeholder groups. All interviewees emphasised that peer group pressure encouraged top management to maintain their membership of the indices. Questionnaire respondents indicated an even balance of views regarding tightening the admission criteria for the indices. The influence of FTSE4Good on corporate conduct was found to be limited and mainly confined to reporting activity, though policy and management systems were amongst other areas where some impacts were noted. A small proportion of respondents felt that membership of the indices had had some significant influences on their companies.

Originality/value

The investigation of the influence of a “mass market” ethical investment index on constituent companies is where the main originality of this paper lies. In particular the interviews with constituent firm representatives and the questionnaire results are novel for ascertaining perceptions about the impact of inclusion in the indices on constituent companies.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 22 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 5 January 2010

David Collison

The paper presents a parody intended to emphasise the dangers and questionable rationale of a procedure which could allow organisations to claim spurious and misleading…

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934

Abstract

Purpose

The paper presents a parody intended to emphasise the dangers and questionable rationale of a procedure which could allow organisations to claim spurious and misleading reputational benefits.

Design/methodology/approach

This is a fictional analogy using a historical episode.

Findings

Reflection on an aspect of policy.

Research limitations/implications

Stimulates consideration of the policy in question and of the potential for analogy to influence understanding and awareness.

Originality/value

An individual perspective on an issue that needs transparency and accountability.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 23 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 1 May 2006

Rob Gray, Jan Bebbington and David Collison

The purpose of this research is to seek to understand and explain the non‐governmental organisation (NGO) and its location in civil society in order to provide a basis for…

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13196

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this research is to seek to understand and explain the non‐governmental organisation (NGO) and its location in civil society in order to provide a basis for future research work. The paper aims to explore and develop understandings of accountability specifically in the context of the NGO and then extend these insights to the accountability of all organisations.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is framed within a theoretical conception of accountability and is primarily literature‐based. In addition secondary data relating to the issues of concern are collated and synthesised.

Findings

The research finds that the essence of accountability lies in the relationships between the organisation and the society and/or stakeholder groups of interest. The nature of this relationship allows us to infer much about the necessary formality and the channels of accountability. In turn, this casts a light upon taken‐for‐granted assumptions in the corporate accountability and reminds us that the essence and basis of success of the corporate world lies in its withdrawal from any form of human relationship and the consequential colonisation and oppression of civil society.

Research limitations/implications

The principal implications relate to: our need to improve the analytical incisiveness of our applications of accountability theory; and the possibility of the accounting literature offering more developed insights to the NGO literature. The primary limitations lie in the paper in being: exploratory of a more developed understanding of accountability; and a novel excursion into the world of the NGO and civil society – neither of which feature greatly in the accounting literature.

Practical implications

These lie in the current political struggles between civil society and capital over appropriate forms of accountability. Corporations continue to avoid allowing themselves to be held accountable whilst civil society organisations are often accountable in many different and informal ways. Ill‐considered calls from capital for more oppressive NGO accountability are typically, therefore, hypocritical and inappropriate.

Originality/value

NGOs are introduced in a detailed and accessible way to the accounting literature. The concept of accountability is further developed by examination of relationships and channels in the context of the NGO and, through Rawls' notion of “closeness”, is further enriched.

Details

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

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Content available
Article
Publication date: 24 April 2007

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572

Abstract

Details

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

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Book part
Publication date: 16 October 2020

Yasser Barghathi, David Collison and Louise Crawford

The chapter examines the perceptions of a range of stakeholders regarding the ethics of earnings management (EM) by Libyan commercial banks. EM ethics research has largely…

Abstract

The chapter examines the perceptions of a range of stakeholders regarding the ethics of earnings management (EM) by Libyan commercial banks. EM ethics research has largely been based on a questionnaire developed by Bruns and Merchant (1990). This chapter addresses the issue in two different ways. First, it directly examines the interviewees’ perceptions on whether EM is ethical or not. Second, stakeholders’ perceptions are surveyed using a set of questions that consider, for example, the effect of EM on others’ interests and whether EM is ethical if applied within General Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and the law. A total of 28 semi-structured interviews were carried out with stakeholders comprising: preparers of financial statements, users, regulators, and academics. A questionnaire survey of stakeholders which yielded 102 responses (response rate 53%) was also carried out. Interview findings indicated that 50% of the interviewees have the view that EM is ethical. Questionnaire results, on the other hand, revealed that EM is agreed, on balance, to be perceived as unethical. However, if applied within GAAP and the legal framework it is perceived, on balance, to be ethical. The chapter provides insights into stakeholders’ perceptions of EM ethics. The findings are of particular relevance to the users, and specifically, the external auditor as well as current and potential investors. EM practices, according to the literature, degrade financial reporting quality and may affect economic decisions. Auditors should be aware that EM may be regarded as an ethical practice and therefore more scrutiny might be required. In terms of accountability a manager should be held accountable not only to shareholders but also to society as a whole.

Details

Research on Professional Responsibility and Ethics in Accounting
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83867-669-8

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