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Article
Publication date: 31 May 2021

Sumit Lodhia, Umesh Sharma and Mary Low

This paper aims to introduce the special issue on “sustainability and accounting for non-financial matters: qualitative and quantitative research approaches”. This special…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to introduce the special issue on “sustainability and accounting for non-financial matters: qualitative and quantitative research approaches”. This special issue was organised at the time when the entire globe was affected by the Coronavirus and accordingly, this paper has taken this opportunity to discuss the implications of this pandemic on accounting for non-financial issues, especially in relation to sustainability accounting research and practice.

Design/methodology/approach

An analysis of public documents and limited academic research on the Coronavirus was undertaken in this paper to highlight how life as it existed has fundamentally changed. The authors also review the papers published in this special issue and identifies research opportunities arising from the current environment.

Findings

The onslaught of the Coronavirus provides both challenges and opportunities for the practice of, and research into, accounting for non-financial matters, such as sustainability. The papers published in this special issue promote understanding and linking of sustainability reporting practices, to creating firm values, as well as identifying current and emerging challenges. The special issue explores criteria for the construction of accounting technology that is consistent with agnostic-based critical accounting and accountability, a business case for managers and practitioners to formulate strategic and management control systems in response to climate change issues, legitimacy and the use of photographs in sustainability reporting to create value, effective disclosures of business and sustainability ethics practiced by the firm for reputation building and value creation, indigenous accounting in mining companies, public sector policy framing of non-financial value, the barriers to sustainability reporting because of lack of awareness and knowledge and inadequate regulatory support in developing countries and the significance of sustainability accounting education to improve sustainability reporting practices in developing countries.

Research limitations/implications

Future research opportunities in relation to the impact of the Coronavirus on accounting for non-financial value are identified. Given that COVID-19 is a societal matter, the practical implications of the Coronavirus in accounting for non-financial value creation are highlighted. The Coronavirus has challenged the existing economic paradigm and non-financial issues will capture the attention of corporations, other institutions, civil society and governments.

Practical implications

The Coronavirus has challenged the existing economic paradigm and non-financial issues will capture the attention of corporations, other institutions, civil society and governments.

Social implications

Given that COVID-19 is a societal matter, the practical implications of the Coronavirus in accounting for non-financial value creation are highlighted.

Originality/value

This study, to the knowledge, is one of the pioneer academic studies that has explored the implications of the Coronavirus on accounting for non-financial value. In addition, this special issue includes papers that highlight how non-financial reporting matters are increasingly being given attention by companies to enhance business practices on sustainability through different perspectives.

Details

Meditari Accountancy Research, vol. 29 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-372X

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Book part
Publication date: 3 July 2017

Kelly M. Soderstrom, Naomi S. Soderstrom and Christopher R. Stewart

The paper complements the research framework proposed by Kim and Matsumura (2017) through a broad survey of the management accounting research in sustainability.

Abstract

Purpose

The paper complements the research framework proposed by Kim and Matsumura (2017) through a broad survey of the management accounting research in sustainability.

Methodology/approach

The paper reviews recent management accounting research in the area of corporate responsibility/sustainability; focusing on articles published in seven widely recognized accounting journals and the Journal of Business Ethics.

Findings

Our survey of the recent literature indicates: (1) a major focus has been on integration of sustainability in management control systems; (2) the primary research methods used are case studies and surveys, with few large sample, archival studies (primarily on compensation); and (3) a significant amount of literature has been published outside of the traditional accounting literature.

Originality/value

The paper complements existing literature reviews in the area by focusing on the set of most widely recognized journals. By focusing on these journals, we highlight opportunities for future research that are likely to reach a broader accounting readership.

Details

Advances in Management Accounting
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78714-530-6

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Book part
Publication date: 16 October 2014

Angelo Ditillo and Irene Eleonora Lisi

Although companies are increasingly embracing the sustainability discourse in their external reporting and disclosures, little is known about how management control…

Abstract

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.

Details

Accounting for the Environment: More Talk and Little Progress
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78190-303-2

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Article
Publication date: 27 January 2021

Huthaifa Al-Hazaima, Mary Low and Umesh Sharma

This paper aims to examine the perceptions of salient stakeholders in Jordan concerning the importance of integrating sustainability education (SE) into the accounting curriculum.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine the perceptions of salient stakeholders in Jordan concerning the importance of integrating sustainability education (SE) into the accounting curriculum.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper uses salient stakeholder theory as a lens and seeks to explore the possible integration of SE into the Jordanian tertiary accounting curriculum. A final sample of 702 salient stakeholders including university accounting educators, accounting students, industry accountants, government representatives and accounting association professional members were used to glean an insight of their views and the extent to which sustainability is present in accounting education.

Findings

Findings indicate that there is a strong belief by these salient stakeholders that there is significant importance for the integration of SE into the accounting curriculum in Jordanian universities. There is concern that the current curriculum does not meet the educational needs of future accountants and business executives from a sustainability perspective.

Research limitations/implications

This study contributes to the research debate on the competencies crisis in accounting education by focusing on the lack of SE in the accounting curriculum. This study draws attention to the need of up-skilling and applied knowledge in this critical area. There are strong viewpoints from the salient stakeholders in this study. They emphasise that a progressive education solution is required and which integrates SE into the accounting curriculum.

Practical implications

The research is useful to accounting educators, professional accounting associations, industry, accounting students and the government. The salient stakeholders in Jordan wish to include SE within the accounting curriculum. This would lead to future accountants and business executives having stronger competencies to respond in a resilient and resourceful manner to changes in the way business is conducted, especially in an area where societal and environmental impacts are highly scrutinised.

Originality/value

This study provides evidence on how salient stakeholders of an emerging economy can influence, provide guidance and leadership in integrating SE in the accounting curriculum. Engaging actively and extensively with research studies such as this allows them to voice their opinions about the importance of sustainability and how their country can better engage in this increasingly important field.

Details

Meditari Accountancy Research, vol. 29 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-372X

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Book part
Publication date: 13 August 2018

Chaminda Wijethilake and Athula Ekanayake

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to develop a framework which sheds new light on how sustainability control systems (SCS) can be used in proactive strategic

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to develop a framework which sheds new light on how sustainability control systems (SCS) can be used in proactive strategic responses to corporate sustainability pressures.

Design/Methodology/Approach – Corporate sustainability pressures are identified using insights from institutional theory and the resource-based view of the firm.

Findings – The paper presents an integrated framework showing the corporate sustainability pressures, proactive strategic responses to these pressures, and how organizations might use SCS in their responses to the corporate sustainability pressures they face.

Practical Implications – The proposed framework shows how organizations can use SCS in proactive strategic responses to corporate sustainability pressures.

Originality/Value – The paper suggests that instead of using traditional financial-oriented management control systems, organizations need more focus on emerging SCS as a means of achieving sustainability objectives. In particular, the paper proposes different SCS tools that can be used in proactive strategic responses to sustainability pressures in terms of (i) specifying and communicating sustainability objectives, (ii) monitoring sustainability performance, and (iii) providing motivation by linking sustainability rewards to performance.

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Book part
Publication date: 10 December 2013

Stefan Schaltegger and Dimitar Zvezdov

Accountants’ involvement in environmental and sustainability management has merely been investigated to date. With the continuous take-up of sustainability issues by…

Abstract

Purpose

Accountants’ involvement in environmental and sustainability management has merely been investigated to date. With the continuous take-up of sustainability issues by companies and with the growing experience companies gain in dealing with this topic, this chapter raises the question whether accountants are involved in a way different than previously reported and if yes, what their role is in social accounting practice.

Methodology

Based on 58 interviews with corporate practitioners, this chapter firstly explores the roles involved in the social accounting practice in companies which are considered to be leading in sustainability reporting in the United Kingdom and Germany. Secondly, the role of professional accountants is analysed from a power theory perspective.

Findings

The main findings suggest that professional accountants are partially involved in social accounting practice but mainly exert a gatekeeping role between sustainability managers and higher management.

Practical implications

Investigating the observed behaviour empirically can help improve social accounting. Should it turn out that the accountants have no other option but to act like gatekeepers, accounting education will play a major role in overcoming this deficiency in the pursuit of improved sustainability knowledge and performance. If, on the other hand, it is the defensive stance of accounting professionals and the fear of losing power in corporate structures which motivates them to act as gatekeepers, mechanisms to motivate them to cooperate should be researched.

Value of chapter

The chapter empirically investigates and discusses the accountant’s contribution to sustainability information management. This can help overcome organisational challenges impeding companies to successfully implement sustainability measures.

Details

Accounting and Control for Sustainability
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78052-766-6

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Book part
Publication date: 3 May 2012

Seleshi Sisaye

The organizational ecology perspective approaches the integration of sustainability into the accounting curriculum by following the evolutionary process of organizational…

Abstract

The organizational ecology perspective approaches the integration of sustainability into the accounting curriculum by following the evolutionary process of organizational development. There is a growing interest in sustainability, and, recently, books and articles have appeared that discuss sustainability accounting and reporting. A number of schools have developed standalone courses in sustainability accounting while others have integrated sustainability into existing courses in accounting ethics or corporate social responsibility. This chapter applies ecological, both organizational sociological and anthropological, approaches to argue in favor of integration of sustainability into the accounting curriculum rather than in standalone courses. These two approaches are utilized because these disciplines have well-established theoretical and methodological approaches that can be applied to study the subject of sustainability, natural resources conservation, and ecological management. In addition, the current trend in accounting education is for the incorporation of social and behavioral sciences perspectives, including sociology and anthropology, into the accounting curriculum. Accordingly, the application of the ecological approach from these disciplines contributes significantly to the study of the integration of sustainability into the accounting curriculum.

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Article
Publication date: 31 July 2020

Charles H. Cho, Anna Kim, Michelle Rodrigue and Thomas Schneider

The purpose of this paper is two-fold. The first is to provide insight into the academic life, teaching and research activities of active participants in the sustainability

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is two-fold. The first is to provide insight into the academic life, teaching and research activities of active participants in the sustainability accounting and management academic community in North America. The second is to provide readers with an overview of the papers in this special issue.

Design/methodology/approach

To meet the first objective, we specifically sought out those who self-identify as sustainability accounting and management academics, based in North American universities and who actively engage in the sustainability academic community in North America. Using an anonymous online survey, this group was asked to respond to various questions about their academic life, research and teaching activities.

Findings

Survey respondents report that they choose to focus on sustainability accounting and management because they want to make a difference (change the world). To that end, the respondents identify carbon emissions and climate change, social issues such as inequalities, as well as grand challenges and sustainable development goals, as important research topics to pursue in the future. While passionate about their research topics, respondents generally note that research outlets that will serve to significantly move their careers forward are difficult to find. A relatively small number of respondents teach sustainability accounting or management, however, most courses taught are dedicated to the topic and teaching sustainability was identified as amongst the most enjoyable aspects of their academic lives.

Practical implications

With study respondents feeling closed out of a number of mainstream journals, career paths at North American institutions could appear somewhat limited for those choosing sustainability accounting and management research as a focus, interest and even passion. This is perhaps even more profound on the teaching side where from a practical perspective, we need to be teaching accountants and managers the significance of sustainability in and for the profession, yes – but even more so for society broadly.

Social implications

As we move into the digital age, it is important that professionals bend their minds to sustainability as much as they do to keep up with the “pace of change” on other fronts. A potential risk is that “high-tech” subsumes equally important social aspects that need to be embedded in the process of generating accounting and management professionals.

Originality/value

To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time a survey on the work experiences of a sample of scholars teaching and doing research in the area of sustainability accounting and management has been presented for publication. It is meant to provide some descriptive insights into what drives some active participants in this group of academics and reflect on where the future might lead as sustainability becomes an urgent necessity rather than a choice. These descriptive insights and reflections provide a starting point for future inquiries.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 11 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

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Article
Publication date: 21 February 2020

Souâd Taïbi, Nicolas Antheaume and Delphine Gibassier

The purpose of this paper is to first empirically illustrate the construction of accounting for sustainable development tool (Bebbington and Gray, 2001) and, second, to…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to first empirically illustrate the construction of accounting for sustainable development tool (Bebbington and Gray, 2001) and, second, to discuss the operationalization of accounting for sustainable development (Bebbington and Larrinaga, 2014).

Design/methodology/approach

This research is based on a unique intervention-research approach, the main author having worked part-time for four years on the development of the tool for a business organization in the organic food sector.

Findings

This paper proposes an operationalization of sustainable development within an accounting tool and presents the results of the calculations. It also touches briefly upon the organization’s decision not to adopt the tool. The research concludes on the difficulty of operationalizing the economic, social and environmental capitals while proposing results that demonstrate “unsustainability”.

Practical implications

This research in operationalizing sustainable development paves the way for future potential use of the tool described, and future developments to address the model’s current shortcomings, notably in interconnecting social and economic capitals with natural capital.

Social implications

The non-adoption of the accounting tool raises questions about the acceptability among practitioners of visualizing the unsustainability of their own organization, in particular within “green” and “socially responsible” businesses. Moreover, it raises the question of growth and decoupling of the organization’s impact from its economic growth.

Originality/value

This paper makes three contributions to the current literature. First, it furthers the discussion on how to operationalize accounting for sustainable development, notably by trying to implement capital as a liability (a debt), placing its “maintenance” at the very heart of the design. Second, it offers an initial operationalization of “system thinking” within a tool to account for sustainable development. Finally, it contributes to the literature on “engagement research” through a four-year intervention-research project.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 11 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

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Article
Publication date: 21 October 2013

Seleshi Sisaye

The purpose of this paper is to document the integration of sustainability into the accounting curriculum. Compared to many disciplines in the social and administrative…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to document the integration of sustainability into the accounting curriculum. Compared to many disciplines in the social and administrative sciences, the greening of the curriculum in accounting is a recent phenomenon. Nevertheless, there has been a remarkable growth in both the content and the coverage of sustainability topics integrated into the accounting curriculum.

Design/methodology/approach

The approach to the paper is multidisciplinary. It has combined organizational sociology and ecological anthropology approaches in the integration of sustainability into the accounting curriculum. In accounting, there is an increasing emphasis on the application of social science perspectives, particularly sociology and anthropology in curriculum development and pedagogical issues. This paper demonstrates that the influence of these two disciplines in accounting education is substantial.

Findings

Sustainability in accounting has both theoretical and practical implications. Theoretically, sustainability has integrated social and environmental dimensions into accounting education and research. Sustainability reporting contains information on the economic, social, and environmental activities of business organizations. In practice, sustainability has influenced the accounting standard-setting organizations in developing guidelines on how to integrate sustainability into corporate reports so that the information can be verified and certified by public accounting and regulatory organizations.

Originality/value

The paper is among the first to demonstrate the importance of organizational sociology and ecological anthropology for the integration of sustainability into the accounting curriculum. Both sociology and anthropology have been in the forefront of the study of ecology and natural resources management and conservation in sustainability development. The paper approaches have important implications for sustainability education and framework in accounting theory and research.

Details

World Journal of Entrepreneurship, Management and Sustainable Development, vol. 9 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2042-5961

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