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Article
Publication date: 18 September 2017

Shona Russell, Markus J. Milne and Colin Dey

The purpose of this paper is to review and synthesise academic research in environmental accounting and demonstrate its shortcomings. It provokes scholars to rethink their…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to review and synthesise academic research in environmental accounting and demonstrate its shortcomings. It provokes scholars to rethink their conceptions of “accounts” and “nature”, and alongside others in this AAAJ special issue, provides the basis for an agenda for theoretical and empirical research that begins to “ecologise” accounting.

Design/methodology/approach

Utilising a wide range of thought from accounting, geography, sociology, political ecology, nature writing and social activism, the paper provides an analysis and critique of key themes associated with 40 years research in environmental accounting. It then considers how that broad base of work in social science, particularly pragmatic sociology (e.g. Latour, Boltanksi and Thévenot), could contribute to reimagining an ecologically informed accounting.

Findings

Environmental accounting research overwhelmingly focuses on economic entities and their inputs and outputs. Conceptually, an “information throughput” model dominates. There is little or no environment in environmental accounting, and certainly no ecology. The papers in this AAAJ special issue contribute to these themes, and alongside social science literature, indicate significant opportunities for research to begin to overcome them.

Research limitations/implications

This paper outlines and encourages the advancement of ecological accounts and accountabilities drawing on conceptual resources across social sciences, arts and humanities. It identifies areas for research to develop its interdisciplinary potential to contribute to ecological sustainability and social justice.

Originality/value

How to “ecologise” accounting and conceptualise human and non-human entities has received little attention in accounting research. This paper and AAAJ special issue provides empirical, practical and theoretical material to advance further work.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 30 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 19 March 2018

Rob Gray and Markus J. Milne

The purpose of this paper is to offer a counter-narrative to accounts of specific species extinction. The authors place humanity’s ways of organising at the core and…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to offer a counter-narrative to accounts of specific species extinction. The authors place humanity’s ways of organising at the core and recognise that only fundamental re-appraisal of humanity’s taken-for-granted narratives offers hope for biodiversity and sustainability. The authors challenge producers of accounts of all sorts to reconsider the context and level of resolution of their accounts. The authors argue that humankind is the root cause of most (if not all) current species extinctions; that such extinctions represent one reason why humanity might itself be threatened with extinction; and why human extinction might be a good thing. The authors need to imagine other, better, futures.

Design/methodology/approach

The piece is an essay which assembles a wide range of literature in order to support its contentions.

Findings

There are many individual accounts of species which explore the (albeit very serious) symptoms of a problem without, the authors maintain, examining the systematic source of the problem. The source problem is western mankind’s organisation and somewhat taciturn conception of humanity. There is a lack of accounts offering new possibilities.

Research limitations/implications

The piece is an essay and, consequently, limited to the quality of the argument presented. The essay suggests that the principal implications relate to how producers of counter-accounts frame their construction of accounts and how accounts of species extinction need to be more cognisant of underlying causes.

Practical implications

Without substantial change, planetary ecology, including humanity, is very seriously threatened. Imagining a plausible future is a most practical act of faith.

Social implications

The essay suggests that as accountants the authors might think to approach the counter-accounts with a lower level of resolution: one that is directed towards a more challenging notion of what it is to be human.

Originality/value

Whilst building upon the growing sophistication in the understanding of (new) accounts and responding to the emerging literatures on biodiversity, species extinction and utopian vision the authors offer what the authors believe to be a unique suggestion in the accounting literature about the extinction of mankind.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 31 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 15 February 2008

Markus Milne, James Guthrie and Lee Parker

This editorial seeks to reflect on seven contributions to this AAAJ special issue and on the interdisciplinary accounting, auditing and accountability movement and its…

Abstract

Purpose

This editorial seeks to reflect on seven contributions to this AAAJ special issue and on the interdisciplinary accounting, auditing and accountability movement and its future directions. The seven papers were invited plenary contributions to the APIRA 2007 conference, which in part served to celebrate 20 years of AAAJ. The important role of academic researchers is highlighted in not simply observing, but also in engaging in and constructing an enabling accounting. The contribution of scholarly research to knowledgeable debates about an enabling accounting for society and the sustainability of the planet is discussed.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper employs a literature‐based analysis and critique. The paper is primarily a discussion paper.

Findings

This editorial draws together the themes of papers in this AAAJ special issue, which point to the need for researchers to reflect on their motivation, use of theory and values to ensure that academic work is making a genuine contribution.

Research limitations/implications

The practical and research issues explored in this, and the other papers, in this special theme section, it is hoped, will invoke more critical perspectives on accountancy, assist scholars in theory development and application, and influence growth in reflective academic studies in this area.

Originality/value

This editorial discusses the contributions to this AAAJ special issue.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 21 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 25 October 2011

Markus J. Milne and Suzana Grubnic

This paper aims to set out several of the key issues and areas of the inter‐disciplinary field of climate change research based in accounting and accountability, and to…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to set out several of the key issues and areas of the inter‐disciplinary field of climate change research based in accounting and accountability, and to introduce the papers that compose this AAAJ special issue.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper provides an overview of issues in the science of climate, as well as an eclectic collection of independent and inter‐disciplinary contributions to accounting for climate change. Through additional accounting analysis, and a shadow carbon account, it also illustrates how organisations and nations account for and communicate their greenhouse gas (GHG) footprints and emissions behaviour.

Findings

The research shows that accounting for carbon and other GHG emissions is immensely challenging because of uncertainties in estimation methods. The research also shows the enormity of the challenge associated with reducing those emissions in the near future.

Originality/value

The paper surveys past work on a wide variety of perspectives associated with climate change science, politics and policy, as well as organisational and national emissions and accounting behaviour. It provides an overview of challenges in the area, and seeks to set an agenda for future research that remains interesting and different.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 24 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 25 September 2019

Sanjaya C. Kuruppu, Markus J. Milne and Carol A. Tilt

The purpose of this paper is to examine how legitimacy is gained, maintained or repaired through direct action with salient stakeholders and/or through external reporting…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine how legitimacy is gained, maintained or repaired through direct action with salient stakeholders and/or through external reporting, by using a number of empirical case vignettes within a single case study organisation.

Design/methodology/approach

The study investigates a foreign affiliate of a large multinational organisation involved in an environmentally sensitive industry. Data collection included semi-structured interviews with 26 participants, organisational reports and participation in the organisation’s annual environmental management seminar and a stakeholder engagement meeting.

Findings

Four vignettes featuring environmental issues illustrate the complexity of organisational responses. Issue visibility, stakeholder salience and stakeholder interconnectedness influence a company’s action to manage legitimacy. In the short-term, environmental issues which affected salient stakeholders resulted in swift and direct action to protect pragmatic legitimacy, but external reporting did not feature in legitimacy management efforts. Highly visible issues to the public, regulators and the media, however, resulted in direct action together with external reporting to manage wider stakeholder perceptions. External reporting was used superficially, along with a broad suite of communication strategies, to gain legitimacy in the long-term decision about the company’s future in New Zealand.

Research limitations/implications

This paper outlines how episodic encounters to manage strategic legitimacy with salient stakeholders in the short-term are theoretically distinct, but nonetheless linked to continual efforts to maintain institutional legitimacy. Case vignettes highlight how pragmatic legitimacy via dispositional legitimacy can be managed with direct action in the short-term to influence a limited range of salient stakeholders. The way external reporting features in legitimacy management is limited, although this has predominantly been the focus of prior research. Only where an environmental incident damages legitimacy to a larger number of stakeholders is external reporting also used to buttress community support.

Originality/value

The concept of legitimacy is comprehensively applied, linking the strategic and institutional arms of legitimacy and illustrating how episodic actions are taken to manage legitimacy in the short-term with continual efforts to manage legitimacy in the long-term. Stakeholder salience and networks are brought in as novel theoretical extensions to provide a deeper understanding of the interrelationships between these key concepts with a unique case study.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 32 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 15 January 2019

James Guthrie, Lee D. Parker, John Dumay and Markus J. Milne

The purpose of this paper is to reflect upon the focus and changing nature of measuring academic accounting research quality. The paper addresses contemporary changes in…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to reflect upon the focus and changing nature of measuring academic accounting research quality. The paper addresses contemporary changes in academic publishing, metrics for determining research quality and the possible impacts on accounting scholars. These are considered in relation to the core values of interdisciplinary accounting research ‒ that is, the pursuit of novel, rigorous, significant and authentic research motivated by a passion for scholarship, curiosity and solving wicked problems. The impact of changing journal rankings and research citation metrics on the traditional and highly valued role of the accounting academic is further considered. In this setting, the paper also provides a summary of the journal’s activities for 2018, and in the future.

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing on contemporary data sets, the paper illustrates the increasingly diverse and confusing array of “evidence” brought to bear on the question of the relative quality of accounting research. Commercial products used to rate and rank journals, and judge the academic impact of individual scholars and their papers not only offer insight and visibility, but also have the potential to misinform scholars and their assessors.

Findings

In the move from simple journal ranking lists to big data and citations, and increasingly to concerns with impact and engagement, the authors identify several challenges facing academics and administrators alike. The individual academic and his or her contribution to scholarship are increasingly marginalised in the name of discipline, faculty and institutional performance. A growing university performance management culture within, for example, the UK and Australasia, has reached a stage in the past decade where publication and citation metrics are driving allocations of travel grants, research grants, promotions and appointments. With an expanded range of available metrics and products to judge their worth, or have it judged for them, scholars need to be increasingly informed of the nuanced or not-so-nuanced uses to which these measurement systems will be put. Narrow, restricted and opaque peer-based sources such as journal ranking lists are now being challenged by more transparent citation-based sources.

Practical implications

The issues addressed in this commentary offer a critical understanding of contemporary metrics and measurement in determining the quality of interdisciplinary accounting research. Scholars are urged to reflect upon the challenges they face in a rapidly moving context. Individuals are increasingly under pressure to seek out preferred publication outlets, developing and curating a personal citation profile. Yet such extrinsic outcomes may come at the cost of the core values that motivate the interdisciplinary scholar and research.

Originality/value

This paper provides a forward-looking focus on the critical role of academics in interdisciplinary accounting research.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 32 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 1 May 1999

Markus J. Milne and Ralph W. Adler

This paper reports the results of an exploratory study of inter‐coder reliability of annual report social and environmental disclosures content analysis. Using the…

Abstract

This paper reports the results of an exploratory study of inter‐coder reliability of annual report social and environmental disclosures content analysis. Using the sentence‐based coding instruments and decision rules from Hackston and Milne (1996), this study reports the co‐agreement levels reached by three coders over five rounds of testing 49 annual reports. The study also provides a commentary on the implications of formal reliability analysis for past and future social and environmental disclosures content analyses, and the complexities of formal reliability measurement. The overall findings suggest that the coded output from inexperienced coders using the Hackston and Milne approach with little or no prior training can be relied on for aggregate total disclosures analysis. For more detailed sub‐category analysis, however, the findings suggest a period of training for the less experienced coders with at least 20 reports appears necessary before their coded output could be relied on.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 12 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 15 June 2015

Christine Byrch, Markus J. Milne, Richard Morgan and Kate Kearins

The purpose of this paper is first, to investigate empirically the plurality of understanding surrounding sustainability held by those working in the business sector, and…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is first, to investigate empirically the plurality of understanding surrounding sustainability held by those working in the business sector, and second, to consider the likelihood of a dialogic accounting that would account for the plurality of perspectives identified.

Design/methodology/approach

The subjects of this study are those people actively working to incorporate sustainability within New Zealand business, both business people and their sustainability advisors. Participant’s subjective understanding is investigated using Q methodology, a method used widely by social science researchers to investigate typical views on a particular topic, from an analysis of the order in which participants individually sort a sample of stimuli. In this study, the stimuli were opinion statements.

Findings

Five typical understandings of sustainable development were identified, including understandings more usually attributed to business antagonists than business. Conflicts between environment and development are acknowledged by most participants. However, an agonistic debate that will create spaces, practices, and institutions through which marginalised understandings of sustainable development might be addressed and contested, is yet to be established and will not be easy.

Originality/value

The paper contributes to the few empirical investigations of the plurality of understandings of sustainability held by those people working to incorporate sustainability within business. It is further distinguished by the authors attempt to describe divergent beliefs and values, absent from their immediate business context, and absent from any academic priming. The paper also provides an illustrative example of the application of Q methodology, a method not commonly used in accounting research.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 28 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 5 May 2020

Matthew Russell Scobie, Markus J. Milne and Tyron Rakeiora Love

This paper explores diverse practices of the giving and demanding of democratic accountability within a case of conflict around deep-sea petroleum exploration in Aotearoa…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper explores diverse practices of the giving and demanding of democratic accountability within a case of conflict around deep-sea petroleum exploration in Aotearoa New Zealand. These practices include submissions and consultations, partnership between Indigenous Peoples and a settler-colonial government and dissensus. These are theorised through the political thought of Jacques Rancière.

Design/methodology/approach

A single case study approach is employed that seeks to particularise and draws on interview, documentary and media materials.

Findings

By examining a case of conflict, the authors find that as opportunities for participation in democratic accountability processes are eroded, political dissensus emerges to demand parts in the accountability process. Dissensus creates counter forums within a wider understanding of democratic accountability. In this case, individuals and organisations move between police (where hierarchy counts those with a part) and politics (exercised when this hierarchy is disrupted by dissensus) to demand parts as police logics become more and less democratic. These parts are then utilised towards particular interests, but in this case to also create additional parts for those with none.

Originality/value

This study privileges demands for accountability through dissensus as fundamental to democratic accountability, rather than just account giving and receiving. That is, who is or who is not included – who has a stake or a part – is crucial in a broader understanding of democratic accountability. This provides democratic accountability with a radical potential for creating change. The study also advances thinking on democratic accountability by drawing from Indigenous perspectives and experiences in a settler-colonial context.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 33 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 6 February 2007

Amanda Ball, Markus J. Milne and Edwin Maberly

Abstract

Details

Pacific Accounting Review, vol. 19 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0114-0582

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