Social Environment Accounting

Topics: Sustainability, Environment, Environmentalism Pages: 8 (2440 words) Published: July 27, 2013
Accounting Forum 28 (2004) 1–5


Social and environmental accounting: trends and thoughts for the future Over the years Accounting Forum has explored different possible directions for the field of social and environmental accounting. With a new publisher—Elsevier—it is our hope that we shall reach new markets and opportunities. In recent issues, these explorations have been extended to theorising the role of accounting in transnational global processes, and to the channels of global information and the interpretation of that information. In particular, contributions have attempted to explore the notion that accounting discourse is a medium through which relationships between business and society can be created, nurtured and developed. In our 2000 issue, we expressed our guiding aim through the lens provided by the late Professor Ray Chambers. We repeat it for this issue: What accounting needs is its own Copernican revolution. Too long have accountants been enamoured of the products of undisciplined imagination and unbiblical contemplation. Too long have they failed to lift their sights to the observables of real world affairs the substance of which it is their business to capture. Accounting is widely depicted as essentially historical. Hence the use of past prices, in presenting presently dated financial statements. More recently attention has shifted to future, hypothetical, prices. But what about present prices in presently dated statements? Accountants seem to have settled for the rule of the White Queen in Through the Looking Glass: ‘The rule is jam tomorrow and jam yesterday-but never jam today.’ (Chambers, 1999b: 250–251). Recent research in the area of environmental, financial and management accounting shows that accounting and accountants can participate in these areas of research. This issue attempts to explore these research questions some of which are: • • • • • • • • What do key organizational decision-makers understand by environmental sustainability? To what extent, if any, do senior managers in a corporation address environmental issues? Why are these issues addressed and how do they relate to democratic accountability? How are environmental issues integrated into organizational strategy? What environmental strategies are developed and implemented? What are the driving forces behind corporate policies toward environmental issues? What do key members of stakeholder groups understand by environmental sustainability? How do companies and their stakeholders assess environmental performance?

0155-9982/$ – see front matter © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.accfor.2004.04.004


Introduction / Accounting Forum 28 (2004) 1–5

A starting point was that provided by Gray, Jarad, Power and Sinclair (2001) who observed that they were unable to find, during an 8 year sample, any ‘unique and/or stable relationship between any measure of disclosure and any corporate characteristic’ (Gray et al., 2001, p. 349). In this issue, extending the ‘Dundee Perspective’, Lorraine, Collison and Power add to the growing body of statistical work on the relationship between environmental performance and disclosure characteristics. Their research begins to appraise the bottom line and explores the extent to which corporations are acting in the public interest. Specifically, they analyse publicity surrounding fines for environmental pollution and the commendations related to good environmental achievements to determine whether these information events influence share prices (Lorraine et al., 2004). In this article, they explore whether good or bad publicity about environmental performance affects companies’ share prices. To date, they explain that a lot of the research in this area has been conducted in a US setting and has arrived at inconclusive results. This investigation examines the topic in a UK context to consider publicity about fines for environmental pollution as well as commendations...

References: Chambers, R. J. (1999a). Accounting for simplicity. Abacus, 35, 121–138. Chambers, R. J. (1999b). The poverty of accounting discourse. Abacus, 35, 241–252. Chan, C. C. C., & Milne, M. J. (1999). Investor reactions to corporate environmental saints and sinners: an experimental attitude. Accounting and Business Research, 29, 265–279. Day, R. G. (2004). Disclosure of information about employees in the Director’s report of UK published financial statements: substantive or symbolic? Accounting Forum, 28, 43–59. Freedman, M., & Patten, D. M. (2004). Evidence on the pernicious effect of financial report environmental disclosure. Accounting Forum, 28, 27–41. Gray, R., Mohammed, J., Power, D., & Sinclair, C. D. (2001). Social and environmental disclosure and corporate characteristics: A research note and extension. Journal of Business Finance and Accounting, 28, 327–355. Hammond, K., & Miles, S. (2004). Assessing quality assessment of corporate social reporting: UK perspectives. Accounting Forum, 28, 61–79. Konar, S., & Cohen, M. A. (1997). Information as regulation: the effect of community right to know laws on toxic emissions. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 32, 109–124. Lorraine, N. H. J., Collison, D. J., & Power, D. M. (2004). An analysis of the stock market impact of environmental performance information. Accounting Forum, 28, 7–26. Neu, D., Warsame, H., & Pedwell, K. (1998). Managing public impressions: environmental disclosures in annual reports. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 23, 265–283.
Further reading
Callicott, J. B. (1996). Do deconstructive ecology and sociobiology undermine Leopold’s land ethic. Environmental Ethics, 18, 353–373. Callicott, J. B. (2000). Many indigenous worlds or the indigenous world? Environmental Ethics, 22, 273–291. Gallhofer, S., & Haslam, J. (1997). The direction of green accounting policy: critical reflection. Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, 10, 158–174. Gray, R. H. (1989). Review of models of democracy. Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, 2, 52–56. Gray, R., Kouhy, R., & Lavers, S. (1995). Corporate social and environmental reporting: a review of the literature and a longitudinal study of UK disclosure. Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, 8, 47–77. Gray, R. H., Owen, D. L., & Adams, C. (1996). Accountability and Accounting. London: Prentice Hall. Gray, R. H., Owen, D., & Maunders, K. (1987). Corporate Social Responsibility. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Glen Lehman University of South Australia City West Campus, Adelaide, Australia E-mail address: (G. Lehman)
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