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Book part
Publication date: 16 December 2016

Alexandre Rambaud and Jacques Richard

This chapter gives in “Introduction to the Human Capital Issue” a critical analysis of the standard (economic) Human Capital (HC) theory, with the help of some…

Abstract

Purpose

This chapter gives in “Introduction to the Human Capital Issue” a critical analysis of the standard (economic) Human Capital (HC) theory, with the help of some “traditional” (founding) accounting concepts. From this study, to avoid the accounting and social issues highlighted in “Introduction to the Human Capital Issue,” we present, in “The “Triple Depreciation Line” Model and the Human Capital,” the “Triple Depreciation Line” (TDL) accounting model, developed by Rambaud & Richard (2015b), and we apply it to “HC,” but viewed as genuine accounting capital – a matter of concern – that firms have to protect and maintain.

Methodology/approach

From a critical review of literature on HC theory, from the origin of this concept to its connection with sustainable development, this chapter provides a conceptual discussion on this notion and on the differences/common points between capital and assets in accounting and economics. Then, it uses a normative accounting model (TDL), initially introduced to extend, in a consistent way, financial accounting to extra-financial issues.

Findings

This analysis shows at first that the standard (economic) HC theory is based on a (deliberate) confusion between assets and capital, in line with a standard economic perspective on capital. Therefore, this particular viewpoint implies: an accounting issue for reporting HC, because “traditional” accounting capital and assets are clearly isolated concepts; and a societal issue, because this confusion leads to the idea that HC does not mean that human beings are “capital” (i.e., essential), or have to be maintained, even protected, for themselves. It only means that human beings are mere productive means. The application of the TDL model to an accounting redefinition of HC allows a discussion about some key issues involved in the notion of HC, including the difference between the standard and “accounting” narratives on HC. Finally, this chapter presents some important consequences of this accounting model for HC: the disappearance of the concept of wage and the possibility of reporting repeated (or continuous) use of HC directly in the balance sheet.

Research implications

This chapter contributes to the literature on HC and in general on capital and assets, by stressing in particular some confusions and misunderstandings in these concepts. It fosters a cross-disciplinary approach of these issues, through economic, accounting, and sustainability viewpoints. This analysis also participates in the development of the TDL model and the research project associated. It finally proposes another perspective, more sustainable, on HC and HC reporting.

Social implications

The stakes of HC are important in today’s economics, accounting, and sustainable development. The different conceptualizations of HC, and the narratives behind it, may have deep social and corporate implications. In this context, this analysis provides a conceptual, and practicable, framework to develop a more sustainable concept of HC and to enhance working conditions, internal business relations, integrated reporting. As an outcome of these ideas, this chapter also questions the standard corporate governance models.

Originality/value

This chapter gives an original perspective on HC, and in general on the concept of capital, combining an economic and an accounting analysis. It also develops a new way to report HC, using an innovative integrated accounting model, the TDL model.

Details

Finance and Economy for Society: Integrating Sustainability
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78635-509-6

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Book part
Publication date: 25 October 2021

Abstract

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Rethinking Finance in the Face of New Challenges
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80117-788-7

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Book part
Publication date: 16 December 2016

Abstract

Details

Finance and Economy for Society: Integrating Sustainability
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78635-509-6

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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…

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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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Book part
Publication date: 12 March 2020

Pierre Baret and Vincent Helfrich

Based on a single and innovative case study (Siggelkow, 2007; Yin, 2014), this research aims to identify the main issues of non-financial reporting. They are related to:…

Abstract

Based on a single and innovative case study (Siggelkow, 2007; Yin, 2014), this research aims to identify the main issues of non-financial reporting. They are related to:

the complexity of the corporate social responsibility (Alcouffe, Berland, Dreveton, & Essid, 2010; Ancori, 2008; Antheaume, 2007; Brichard, 1996; Buritt, 2004; Chan, 2005; Gray & Bebbington, 2001; Herborn, 2005; Savall & Zardet, 2013; Vatn, 2009);

the legislator’s and stakeholders’ expectations (Ancori, 2005; Batifoulier, 2001; Caillaud & Tirole, 2007; Lewis, 1969); and

the company’s expectations (Argyris & Schön, 1978; Chiapello & Gilbert, 2013; David 1998; Grimand, 2012; Moisdon, 1997; Senge, 1992; Wood, 1991).

Symmetrically, it reveals possible pitfalls. Through the study of the way the Rémy Cointreau Group developed its reporting tool, the authors analyze how a company can take the opportunity of a legal obligation to deploy a strategy of non-financial reporting that comes to support and structure a responsible approach. Of course, these results are only replicable under certain conditions related to this singular case.

Details

Non-Financial Disclosure and Integrated Reporting: Practices and Critical Issues
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83867-964-4

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Book part
Publication date: 12 March 2020

Sergio Paternostro

There are still many different theoretical approaches and practical interpretations about what an integrated report is. Starting from this premise, the overall purpose of…

Abstract

There are still many different theoretical approaches and practical interpretations about what an integrated report is. Starting from this premise, the overall purpose of this chapter is to critically analyze the relationship between integrated reporting (IR) and social/sustainability disclosure. Indeed, although some scholars considered IR as a tool to improve the sustainability approach of the companies allowing to disclose more relevant social information, others are more critical about the potentiality of IR to improve social disclosure. Therefore, the general research question is: Is there a natural link between IR and social disclosure (true love) or is the IR a practice to “normalize” the social disclosure and accounting (forced marriage)?

In the attempt to provide a preliminary answer to the research question, the chapter analyzes what is the approach of three categories: (1) academics; (2) soft-regulators; and (3) companies. From the methodological point of view, a mixed method of analysis has been adopted.

From the analysis of the three different points of view, IR can be considered as a “contested concept” because of the heterogeneous and sometimes conflicting interpretations and implementation that are done on this type of report. This leads to relevant theoretical and practical implications.

Details

Non-Financial Disclosure and Integrated Reporting: Practices and Critical Issues
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83867-964-4

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Book part
Publication date: 12 March 2020

Abstract

Details

Non-Financial Disclosure and Integrated Reporting: Practices and Critical Issues
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83867-964-4

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Article
Publication date: 11 June 2018

Leonardo Rinaldi, Jeffrey Unerman and Charl de Villiers

The purpose of this paper is to identify key challenges, opportunities, strengths and weaknesses experienced by the integrated reporting (IR) idea since the International…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to identify key challenges, opportunities, strengths and weaknesses experienced by the integrated reporting (IR) idea since the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC)’s Discussion Paper was published in late 2011. It provides insights into the phases of the IR journey as investigated by accounting researchers, identifies important gaps in the literature and sketches an agenda for future research.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper develops a theoretically informed analysis of published IR research articles using the idea journey theoretical framework. The paper draws upon academic analysis and insights published in 65 IR-related articles across 83 accounting journals listed in the Scopus database.

Findings

A key insight of the paper is that the academic literature has not yet covered all stages of the IR idea journey. The highest proportion of articles provide insights in the generation and production phases of this journey, while there is relatively little research into the impact phase of the IR idea. Furthermore, the locus of research covered by the current IR literature is situated at macro- and meso-levels. This reveals opportunities for future research to explore, at a more detailed level, interactions between single individuals or small groups in implementing or understanding the IR idea.

Research limitations/implications

This paper focuses on the idea journey of the IIRC’s version of IR. It identifies gaps regarding the stages of the IR idea journey that have not been covered by the extant academic literature and suggests some research areas that need to be addressed to help inform improvements in policy and practice. A key limitation is that it draws on a single communication channel, namely, academic articles published in accounting journals, but it provides opportunities for considerable further developments.

Originality/value

The paper extends IR research by reconciling insights from an understandably fragmented emerging literature. It provides a multi-dimensional perspective on IR, highlighting the dynamics and interrelationships in the literature. It also helps inform improvements in research, policy and practice by identifying gaps regarding the stages of the IR idea journey that have not been covered by the extant academic literature. Lastly, the paper builds on the work of innovation and creativity scholars showing how the idea journey framework can be used to shape and add coherence to accounting research.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 31 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Abstract

Details

Rethinking Finance in the Face of New Challenges
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80117-788-7

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Article
Publication date: 11 February 2019

Federica Doni, Mikkel Larsen, Silvio Bianchi Martini and Antonio Corvino

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the engagement with integrated reporting (IR) of the Development Bank of Singapore (DBS), as one of the banks that pioneered…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the engagement with integrated reporting (IR) of the Development Bank of Singapore (DBS), as one of the banks that pioneered IR. Banking industry members face critical sector-specific issues regarding the use of capitals, especially the disclosure of relational and natural capital-related information, and reporting of the outcomes of capitals. This study examines an innovative approach to accounting for multiple capitals adopted by DBS during its journey toward IR.

Design/methodology/approach

This empirical research follows the case study method, using semi-structured interviews with DBS’s managers, and analyzing reports and other documentation.

Findings

The authors find that DBS re-conceptualizes, re-categorizes and measures multiple capitals as a form of non-financial value using the balance sheet approach to make visible the interactions and potential tensions (trade-offs) among capitals.

Research limitations/implications

Case studies are best used to understand a specific context, so the findings of this study cannot be generalized statistically. However, the study does provide insights into the banking industry that may be applicable to other organizations.

Practical implications

The categorization and reporting of multiple capitals using the balance sheet approach and the integration of the balanced scorecard are innovative operationalizations of the International <IR> Framework.

Originality/value

This study provides an innovative approach to the categorization and measurement of multiple capitals. It represents a step toward reducing the gap between research and practice on IR.

Details

Journal of Intellectual Capital, vol. 20 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1469-1930

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