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Although companies are increasingly embracing the sustainability discourse in their external reporting and disclosures, little is known about how management control…
Although companies are increasingly embracing the sustainability discourse in their external reporting and disclosures, little is known about how management control systems support sustainability within organizations. This is unfortunate, given the important role that properly designed Sustainability Control Systems (SCS) may play in helping firms to better face their social and environmental responsibilities. Starting from these premises, the aim of this essay is twofold. On the one hand, we present a review of the emerging stream of research on sustainability and management control mechanisms, in order to identify and discuss the link between the two. On the other hand, we try to illustrate the main unaddressed issues in this literature as a premise to exploring one possible way to advance research in this area. Specifically, we make a call for a more holistic approach to the study of SCS, which considers also their organizational and cultural dimensions in addition to their technical properties. A framework for informing future work on the topic is proposed, based on the concept of ‘control package’ (Malmi & Brown, 2008; Sandelin, 2008) complemented with notions from the complementarity-based approach developed in organizational economics (Grandori & Furnari, 2008; Milgrom & Roberts, 1995). By enhancing our understanding on how SCS operate as a package, the application of our framework should allow researchers to develop better theory of how to design a range of controls to support organizational sustainability objectives, control sustainability activities, and drive sustainability performance.
The purpose of this paper is to investigate to what extent the implementation of internal environmental management and voluntary environmental information is related to…
The purpose of this paper is to investigate to what extent the implementation of internal environmental management and voluntary environmental information is related to organisational change.
Organisational change literature provided a framework for the analysis of the materials which were collected through a mixed method. Data on internal environmental management were collected through a survey, while a quality disclosure index was used to assess the quality of the environmental voluntary disclosure. Interviews were used to enhance the quantitative results interpreted according to the four pathways proposed by Tilt (2006) and characterised by several levels of internal environmental management and voluntary disclosure.
The results indicated that companies implement more internal activities than external disclosure. Environmental planning and operational practices were the most important changes carried out. When environmental management accounting and environmental disclosure were also implemented, environmental aspects were more integrated within companies, thus revealing that a more structured integration of sustainability aspects within organisational values had taken place. The results underline the importance of primarily establishing a set of internal changes, driven by environmental planning, to promote organisational change.
The study presents a larger empirical analysis of the organisational change pathways followed by companies, showing similarities and differences among the four pathways. The results underline the importance of both dimensions for studying organisational changes. The framework of Tilt has been enriched, considering a more precise explanation of the internal aspects and adding the concept of the quality of disclosure as proxy to assess organisational change.
Organisational change is investigated through an extensive analysis of internal and external aspects and collecting quantitative and qualitative evidence. The analysis complements previous sustainability accounting literature focussed on the analysis of internal environmental management and external disclosure.