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Article
Publication date: 8 August 2019

Ken McPhail and Carolyn J. Cordery

The purpose of this paper is to reflect on the 2004 AAAJ special issue (SI): “Accounting and theology, an introduction: Initiating a dialogue between immediacy and…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to reflect on the 2004 AAAJ special issue (SI): “Accounting and theology, an introduction: Initiating a dialogue between immediacy and eternity,” the relative immediate impact of the call for papers and the relevance of the theme to address issues in accounting today and in the future.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is a reflection and is framed around three different modes of engagement with new perspectives as identified by Orlikowski (2015). These are religion as phenomenon, as perspective and as a worldview. The authors draw on Burrell and Morgan’s (1979) framework in order to explore the ontological and epistemological blinkers that have limited the attempts to explore accounting from a theological perspective.

Findings

The paper argues that historical and current structures can limit the manner in which accounting research uses theological perspectives. Indeed, the concerns of the initial SI remain – that the contemporary economic and knowledge system is in crisis and alternative ways of questioning are required to understand and respond to this system.

Research limitations/implications

As a reflection, this paper is subject to limitations of author bias relating to our beliefs, ethnicities and culture. The authors have sought to reduce these by drawing on a wide range of sources, critical analysis and the input of feedback from other scholars. Nevertheless, the narrative of impact remains a continuing story.

Originality/value

In drawing on both an original SI guest editor and a scholar for whom the 2004 SI has become a touchstone and springboard, this paper provides multiple viewpoints on the issue of accounting and theology.

Details

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

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 19 August 2019

Niklas Kreander and Ken McPhail

The purpose of this paper is to explore how the Norwegian Government incorporated its responsibility for human rights into the investment practices of its Global Pension…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore how the Norwegian Government incorporated its responsibility for human rights into the investment practices of its Global Pension Fund and how human rights issues were negotiated when exclusion was considered.

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing on a series of interviews the authors analyse the way in which responsibility for human rights has been translated into the practices of the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global.

Findings

The paper documents how a large investment fund used several mechanisms to address human rights risks. The authors demonstrate that different logics among actors sometimes impeded addressing human rights issues. The findings demonstrate that sovereign wealth funds (SWF) can be held accountable for human rights.

Research limitations/implications

The paper illustrates the difficulty of co-operation between actors with different logics. This can result in institutional conflict, but also in positive outcomes for human rights.

Practical implications

Attempts to introduce human rights into state investments may result in increased institutional complexity. The findings indicate that state investors can address human rights issues, but that the ability to do so is diminished where divestment creates political tension.

Social implications

Large investors can influence companies on specific human rights issues.

Originality/value

This is one of the first empirical investigations of the human rights practices of a SWF. The authors contribute to the literatures on accounting and human rights, SWF and institutional theory.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 32 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 19 September 2016

David R.J. Moore and Ken McPhail

The purpose of this paper is to utilize the three abstract-concrete levels of ontology of strong structuration theory (strong ST) to examine how, and to what extent, was…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to utilize the three abstract-concrete levels of ontology of strong structuration theory (strong ST) to examine how, and to what extent, was the development of carbon accounting frameworks at the policy, industry, and organizational levels enabled by external structures as conditions of action, that is, what was the nature of active agency within a field of position-practice relations that led to the development of these frameworks.

Design/methodology/approach

A case study was undertaken drawing upon interviews that were undertaken between 2008 and 2011 at the industry and organizational levels as well as documentary evidence relating to carbon accounting policy development at the macro, or policy level.

Findings

The parliamentary committee hearings into the development of the carbon price legislation represented fields of position-practice relationships which highlighted the interplay of the internal structures, capabilities and the roles of both power and trust of the agent(s)-in-focus. A meso-level analysis of the Victorian water industry highlighted how it was able to mediate the exercise of power by the macro level through the early adoption of carbon accounting frameworks. At the ontic or micro level of the individual water business, the development of a greenhouse strategy was also the outcome of position-practice relationships which highlighted the interplay of the internal structures and dispositions of the agent(s)-in-focus. The position-practice relationships at both the industry and organizational level were characterized by both soft power and trust.

Research limitations/implications

Future research could investigate how the withdrawal of the carbon pricing mechanism in Australia has affected the development of carbon accounting practices whilst overseas research could examine the extent to which carbon accounting frameworks were the outcome of position-practice relationships.

Practical implications

Given the global significance of carbon accounting, this paper provides an overview as to how the early adoption of voluntary carbon accounting practices resulted in a reduction in carbon emissions within the water industry and therefore limited its liability for the carbon price.

Originality/value

This paper illustrates how the strong ST ontological concept of position-practices can be utilized at the macro, meso, and ontic levels and how these relationships mediated the impact of the carbon price upon both the water industry and the individual water business.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 29 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 1 July 2004

Ken McPhail

406

Abstract

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 17 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Content available
Article
Publication date: 16 May 2016

Ken McPhail and John Ferguson

The purpose of this paper is to discuss a number of important recent developments in the area of business and human rights and considers the impact of these developments…

3490

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to discuss a number of important recent developments in the area of business and human rights and considers the impact of these developments for accounting, assurance and reporting. Following the UN endorsement of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (the Guiding Principles) in June 2011, initiatives related to their implementation have advanced at a rapid pace. Despite the centrality of accounting, assurance and reporting to some of the key initiates – accounting research has, hitherto, lagged behind this growing momentum. In order to address this lacunae, this paper develops an agenda for future research in the area of accounting and human rights. In doing so, the paper provides an overview of the important contributions advanced by the other papers in this special issue of Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal (AAAJ).

Design/methodology/approach

This paper draws together and identifies key issues and themes related to the rapidly evolving research and policy domain of business and human rights and considers the relevance of these issues to accounting research.

Findings

The paper highlights the wide-ranging impact the Guiding Principles and other developments in business and human rights have for accounting practice and draws attention to potential areas of research for accounting scholars. In particular, the paper highlights the emergence of business and human rights due diligence requirements, including their management and reporting. Further, the paper draws attention to the development of business and human rights reporting and assurance practice – which, while still in its infancy, has gathered considerable momentum and support.

Research limitations/implications

The paper provides important insights into emerging issues and developments in business and human rights that have clear relevance to accounting research and practice.

Originality/value

This paper, and the other contributions to this special issue of AAAJ, provide a basis and a research agenda for accounting scholars seeking to undertake research in this significant and emerging field.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 29 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 8 November 2019

Garry D. Carnegie

Expanding upon the special issue entitled “The special issue: AAAJ and research innovation”, published in 2012, this introduction to the second special issue of the genre…

Abstract

Purpose

Expanding upon the special issue entitled “The special issue: AAAJ and research innovation”, published in 2012, this introduction to the second special issue of the genre is concerned with selected thematic special issues of AAAJ appearing during the second decade of publication from 1998 to 2007. The paper explores research innovation by means of the thematic issues addressed from this decade.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper provides a background to this special issue and an outline of the articles included. The issue features seven retrospective/prospective articles written by the guest editors of special thematic issues published during 1998 to 2007, supplemented where appropriate by other co-authors or, in one instance, by a new author team.

Findings

The guest editors and other contributing authors sought to identify and discuss the progression of each field since the AAAJ special issue was published, and to assess the impacts of the special issues to this progression, and to propose future research developments in the designated fields.

Research limitations/implications

This commentary on articles published is no substitute for carefully reading these contributions. The papers provide a comprehensive review of key developments in the literature until most recently and explore the opportunities for further innovative interdisciplinary accounting research.

Originality/value

This AAAJ special issue, and the earlier 2012 prototype, constitute a different approach to producing special issues, where the original special issues are revisited with a view to assessing research trends and impacts and to identifying research developments which are ripe for pursuing in each of these interdisciplinary accounting fields.

Details

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

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 16 May 2016

Ken McPhail, Kate Macdonald and John Ferguson

The purpose of this paper is to explore the basis for, and ramifications of, applying relevant human rights norms – such as the United Nations Guiding Principles on…

1701

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the basis for, and ramifications of, applying relevant human rights norms – such as the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights – to the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). In doing so, the paper seeks to contribute to scholarship on the political legitimisation of the IASB’s structure and activities under prevailing global governance conditions.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper explores three distinct argumentative logics regarding responsibilities for justice and human rights vis-à-vis the IASB. First, the authors explore the basis for applying human rights responsibilities to the IASB through reasoning based on the analysis of “public power” (Macdonald, 2008) and public authorisation. Second, the authors develop the reasoning with reference to recent attempts by legal scholars and practitioners to apply human rights obligations to other non-state and transnational institutions. Finally, the authors develop reasoning based on Thomas Pogge’s (1992b) ideas about institutional harms and corresponding responsibilities.

Findings

The three distinct argumentative logic rest on differing assumptions – the goal is not to reconcile or synthesise these approaches, but to propose that these approaches offer alternative and in some ways complementary insights, each of which contributes to answering questions about how human rights obligations of the IASB should be defined, and how such a responsibility could be “actually proceduralised”.

Originality/value

The analysis provides an important starting point for beginning to think about how responsibilities for human rights might be applied to the operation of the IASB.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 29 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 16 May 2016

Ken McPhail and Carol A Adams

Drawing on Fairclough (1989, 2005), the purpose of this paper is to explore how respect for human rights is emerging and being operationalized in the discourse of 30…

2733

Abstract

Purpose

Drawing on Fairclough (1989, 2005), the purpose of this paper is to explore how respect for human rights is emerging and being operationalized in the discourse of 30 Fortune 500 companies in the mining, pharmaceutical and chemical industries at two key points in the recent evolution of the UN’s business and human rights agenda. Specifically the paper explores the scope of rights for which corporations are accountable and, more specifically, the degree of responsibility a company assumes for enacting these rights.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors draw on Fairclough (1992) and Mashaw (2007) in a critical discourse analysis of corporate human rights disclosures of ten companies in each of the chemical, mining and pharmaceutical industries at two points in time coinciding with: first, the publication in 2008 of the Protect, Respect, Remedy policy framework; and second, the endorsement by the UN in 2011, of a set of Guiding Principles designed to implement this framework.

Findings

The study finds four grammars of respect and three different scopes of rights within specific corporate accountably disclosures on their responsibility to respect rights. Corporate constructions of human rights are broad: from labour rights, through social and political rights, to the right to health and a clean environment. The corporate discourse is one of promoting, realizing and upholding rights that construct the corporation as an autonomous source of power beyond the state.

Practical implications

The paper contends that the structuring of this emerging discourse is important, not only because the meaning and scope of corporate respect for rights affects the lived experience of some of the most vulnerable in society, but also because it reflects a shifting the relationship between the state, business and society (Muchlinski 2012).

Originality/value

The authors develop a way of conceptualizing business human rights responsibilities and contend that the corporate human rights discourse of respect reflects a significant reconfiguration of political power.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 29 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 3 May 2013

Vassili Joannidès and Nicolas Berland

The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the sociology‐of‐science type of accounting literature, addressing how accounting knowledge is established, advanced and extended.

1793

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the sociology‐of‐science type of accounting literature, addressing how accounting knowledge is established, advanced and extended.

Design/methodology/approach

The research question is answered through the example of research into linkages between accounting and religion. Adopting an actor‐network theory (ANT) approach, the paper follows the actors involved in the construction of accounting as an academic discipline through the controversies in which they engage to develop knowledge.

Findings

The paper reveals that accounting knowledge is established, advanced and developed through the ongoing mobilisation of nonhumans (journals) who can enrol other humans and nonhumans. It shows that knowledge advancement, establishment and development is more contingent on network breadth than on research paradigms, which appear as side‐effects of positioning vis‐à‐vis a community.

Originality/value

The originality of this paper is twofold. First, ANT is applied to accounting knowledge, whereas the accounting literature applies it to the spread of management accounting ideas, methods and practices. Second, an original methodology for data collection is developed by inviting authors from the network to give a reflexive account of their writings at the time they joined the network. Well diffused in sociology and philosophy, such an approach is, albeit, original in accounting research.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 26 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 31 July 2009

David Campbell, Ken McPhail and Richard Slack

Annual reporting has moved from the conveyance of “simple” accounting numbers and more towards narrative, graphical, pictorial and broader aesthetic content conveyance. At…

2890

Abstract

Purpose

Annual reporting has moved from the conveyance of “simple” accounting numbers and more towards narrative, graphical, pictorial and broader aesthetic content conveyance. At the same time, there has been a small but growing discussion of the work of Emmanuel Levinas and Zygmunt Bauman and in particular the ethic of the Other. The aim of this paper is to explore the presence of faces in annual reports.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on initial observations from the analysis of human representations in the annual reports of 14 companies for all years 1989 to 2003 (210 annual reports), the paper interprets the increase from a Levinasian perspective, drawing substantially from Bauman's articulation of Levinas' ethic of the Other. Particularly within the work of Levinas, this ethic is articulated through the nakedness of the face. Analysis is partly performed through illustration of the site of audiencing, a key visual methodology, in annual report images.

Findings

A significant rise in total human representation over time is interpreted in Levinasian terms and the range of sites of audiencing is demonstrated. Arguments are discussed that suggest a counter‐hegemonic understanding of the corporations' responsibility to the Other.

Originality/value

The paper provides a critical analysis of what this kind of face work means within the context of Levinas' ethics of the Other. The paper explores what this kind of face work means for the possibility of Levinasian‐inspired moral development and the potential for a counter‐hegemonic face work that may promote accountability.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 22 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

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