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Book part

Ericka Costa, Lee D. Parker and Michele Andreaus

Within the accounting discipline and its literature, attention to the role of social and non-profit organizations has been growing, particularly with respect to issues of…

Abstract

Within the accounting discipline and its literature, attention to the role of social and non-profit organizations has been growing, particularly with respect to issues of accountability and social accounting. In response, the aim of this introductory article is to present the background for the book by highlighting (i) the relevance and rise of the non-profit sector worldwide, (ii) the limitations of the conventional accounting framework when applied/transposed to NPOs and (iii) the ‘social accounting project’ for NPOs. The article presents analysis and critique based on a literature review of the accountability framework for NPOs. After presenting key worldwide statistics regarding the growing non-profit sector, the article points out the skepticism regarding the adoption of traditional accounting principles and frameworks for NPOs. The article offers both an examination of how to improve the accounting system for NPOs and a discussion of the benefits emerging from the social and environmental accounting and reporting models. ‘The social accounting project’ for NPOs is presented as a pathway towards these innovative practices increasing organizational transparency. This article and the book overall provide new contributions to the research literature, fostering synergies among financial accounting and social accounting scholars engaging with the NPO subject area. Moreover it brings together studies from a range of disciplines, such as financial accounting, social accounting, economics, management, and third-sector studies. This cross-disciplinary approach offers a major contribution to our developing knowledge in this field.

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Accountability and Social Accounting for Social and Non-Profit Organizations
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78441-004-9

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Book part

Norhayah Zulkifli, Brian Telford and Neil Marriott

Purpose – During the past decade in Malaysia, there has been a rise in the number of companies engaging in a rudimentary form of social and environmental reporting, and…

Abstract

Purpose – During the past decade in Malaysia, there has been a rise in the number of companies engaging in a rudimentary form of social and environmental reporting, and this has coincided with high-profile media coverage of environmental disasters in the country. The purpose of this article is to explore the perceptions of accounting practitioners in Malaysia to social and environmental accounting (SEA).

Methodology/approach – The study utilises a mixed-method approach and involves 245 survey questionnaire respondents, 7 in-depth interviews and the qualitative data from 123 of the survey respondents.

Findings – The level of knowledge and awareness of accounting practitioners in Malaysia of SEA is low. They are sceptical about quantification and valuation issues, but are able to see that reform, which would have to be driven by legislation, and could improve business performance regarding social justice and environmental quality.

Research limitations/implications – This study enables the development of SEA and reporting framework as a vehicle for further discussions on business communication and the participants’ perceptions relating to social and environmental accountability in Malaysia. It postulates the strong likelihood that SEA will take root in Malaysia given the strong undercurrents of accounting and business malpractices and the clarion call by many for the reinstatement of the ethical dimension of the profession.

Originality/value of the article – While most research on SEA and reporting in the context of Malaysia focuses on the disclosure aspects, this article explores the perceptions of accounting practitioners and establishes their insights on the issue of social and environmental accountability and reporting.

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Accounting in Emerging Economies
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84950-626-7

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Book part

Gordon Boyce, Wanna Prayukvong and Apichai Puntasen

Social and environmental accounting research manifests varying levels of awareness of critical global problems and the need to develop alternative approaches to dealing…

Abstract

Social and environmental accounting research manifests varying levels of awareness of critical global problems and the need to develop alternative approaches to dealing with economy and society. This paper explores Buddhist thought and, specifically, Buddhist economics as a means to informing this debate. We draw on and expand Schumacher's ideas about ‘Buddhist economics’, first articulated in the 1960s. Our analysis centres on Buddhism's Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path and associated Buddhist teachings. The examination includes assumptions, means and ends of Buddhist approaches to economics; these are compared and contrasted with conventional economics.To consider how thought and practice may be bridged, we examine a practical application of Buddhism's Middle Way, in the form of Thailand's current work with ‘Sufficiency Economy’.Throughout the paper, we explore the implications for the development of social accounting, looking for mutual interactions between Buddhism and social accounting thought and practice.

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Extending Schumacher's Concept of Total Accounting and Accountability into the 21st Century
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84855-301-9

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Book part

Kala Saravanamuthu

Accounting’s definition of accountability should include attributes of socioenvironmental degradation manufactured by unsustainable technologies. Beck argues that emergent…

Abstract

Accounting’s definition of accountability should include attributes of socioenvironmental degradation manufactured by unsustainable technologies. Beck argues that emergent accounts should reflect the following primary characteristics of technological degradation: complexity, uncertainty, and diffused responsibility. Financial stewardship accounts and probabilistic assessments of risk, which are traditionally employed to allay the public’s fear of uncontrollable technological hazards, cannot reflect these characteristics because they are constructed to perpetuate the status quo by fabricating certainty and security. The process through which safety thresholds are constructed and contested represents the ultimate form of socialized accountability because these thresholds shape how much risk people consent to be exposed to. Beck’s socialized total accountability is suggested as a way forward: It has two dimensions, extended spatiotemporal responsibility and the psychology of decision-making. These dimensions are teased out from the following constructs of Beck’s Risk Society thesis: manufactured risks and hazards, organized irresponsibility, politics of risk, radical individualization and social learning. These dimensions are then used to critically evaluate the capacity of full cost accounting (FCA), and two emergent socialized risk accounts, to integrate the multiple attributes of sustainability. This critique should inform the journey of constructing more representative accounts of technological degradation.

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Parables, Myths and Risks
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78714-534-4

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Article

Ioannis E. Nikolaou and Konstantinos I. Evangelinos

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the drawbacks of current social and environmental accounting methods and to present a classification for developing a new accounting model.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the drawbacks of current social and environmental accounting methods and to present a classification for developing a new accounting model.

Design/methodology/approach

The various social and environmental accounting methods are classified and discussed on the basis of various criteria such as the types of accounting principles and the content and information units utilized.

Findings

Current social and environmental accounting methods utilize different criteria, measurement units and principles, a fact that makes the information provided ambiguous and problematic for a reliable business‐society dialogue under a common and understandable context. A new classification is presented based on specific criteria in the prospect of developing a new accounting model.

Research limitations/implications

The proposed new classification aiming to develop a new accounting model is a theoretical proposition which should be validated and tested in practice with a series of case studies before it can be recommended as an alternative to current accounting methods.

Originality/value

The paper attempts to highlight the drawbacks of the current social and environmental accounting methods and proposes a new classification for the development of a new accounting model.

Details

Social Responsibility Journal, vol. 6 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1747-1117

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Article

Rob Gray

In responding to prior critiques, the paper seeks to re‐examine social accounting as a problem focused, multi‐disciplinary field and explores some of the possible…

Abstract

Purpose

In responding to prior critiques, the paper seeks to re‐examine social accounting as a problem focused, multi‐disciplinary field and explores some of the possible directions the emerging field might take.

Design/methodology/approach

The approach taken is a discursive, polemical essay.

Findings

The very nature of social accounting as a problem‐based field seems to encourage – even require – that scholars approach the subject with a diversity of disciplinary methodological framings. In this regard, it may be apposite to view the field as an emerging, new trans‐disciplinary field.

Research limitations/implications

As an essay, the paper seeks to stimulate thought and debate but it is ultimately speculative and personal.

Originality/value

The paper continues the reflections upon the nature of social accounting (in the widest sense of the term) and offers some of the ways in which the new journal Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, may articulate its purpose. The paper would not presume to usurp the duty of either the community or posterity to determine whether or not this piece has either originality or value.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 1 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

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Article

M.R. Mathews

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…

Abstract

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.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 10 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article

Teresa Eugénio, Isabel Costa Lourenço and Ana Isabel Morais

The last years have witnessed a growth in interest in social and environmental questions. Many companies have developed environmental management and auditing systems and…

Abstract

Purpose

The last years have witnessed a growth in interest in social and environmental questions. Many companies have developed environmental management and auditing systems and altered their social and environmental disclosure practices. These developments resulted in the growth of research focusing on the analysis of information disclosed by companies. The purpose of this study is to contribute a reflection on the papers that have been published on social and environmental accounting from 2000 to 2006.

Design/methodology/approach

A literature review of the papers examining social and environmental matters published in selected accounting journals allows the identification of the key content issues, methodologies and research questions which have been predominant in the social environmental accounting research (SEAR) area. It also enables one to pin‐point areas for future research.

Findings

The content was examined and classified in four groups: social and environmental accounting systems; social and environmental disclosures; regulation impact; and relations among environmental disclosure and environmental performance. For each group, the research method; data origins and type of data; industry and country were identified. Almost all the studies are based on content analysis and interviews. Data are collected not only from the financial statements but also from other types of information disclosed by companies. In many cases, industry activities are selected carefully and most of the studies used data from the UK, Australia, and the USA.

Originality/value

The paper provides a contribution to the development of the SEAR area, exploring different views. It also helps schools to identify areas for future research.

Details

Social Responsibility Journal, vol. 6 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1747-1117

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Article

Rob Gray and Richard Laughlin

The purpose of this paper is to revisit the special issue of Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal which was published in 1991 and which sought to stimulate the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to revisit the special issue of Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal which was published in 1991 and which sought to stimulate the “green accounting” debate, to evaluate that issue and, in particular, to examine what we might learn about the development of the social and environmental accounting literature in the last 20 years.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper takes the form of a discursive, polemical essay.

Findings

The special issue exhibited a wide range of approaches and possibilities; it also exhibited some theoretical naivety and a charming optimism and fetching trust in the power of reasonable argument. Retrospectively, the field has expanded considerably and has made many advances in theoretical and empirical understanding but researchers appear to be less willing to examine the fundamental issues that originally motivated the development of the field.

Research limitations/implications

The implications and limitations stem from the ambitions of this discursive attempt to encourage debate of a more direct and confrontational nature – both within and at the margins of social, environmental and sustainability accounting.

Originality/value

The originality and value of the paper is in its critical engagement with the literature and ideas of social accounting, which is the generic descriptor used in the paper to include “green accounting”. It provides not only an analysis of the achievement of the work to date but some critical pointers to the work that still needs to be done.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 25 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article

Gordon Boyce

Economic “development” involves processes that often jointly produce both goods and “bads” – economic, environmental and social. The bads, however, are often…

Abstract

Economic “development” involves processes that often jointly produce both goods and “bads” – economic, environmental and social. The bads, however, are often technologically invisible; not least in terms of the way decisions are informed and accounted for. This paper takes as its case study a major development proposal that had the potential to produce economic, environmental, and social goods and bads. The paper involves an exploration of official independent reports leading to the proposal, considering the various factors taken into the decision, how the processes were reported on and accounted for. In particular, the treatment of financial/economic factors is examined and compared and contrasted with the treatment of social/environmental factors. From this, the paper considers possibilities for financial, social and environmental accounting in public discourse and decision making. In particular, the use of accounting to create environmental and social visibilities, and to facilitate discourse and debate, is examined.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 13 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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