In Control of Sustainability Information: Untangling the Role of Accountants

Publikation: Beiträge in SammelwerkenKapitelbegutachtet


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.

TitelAccounting and Control for Sustainability
HerausgeberLucrezia Songini, Anna Pistoni, Christian Herzig
Anzahl der Seiten32
VerlagEmerald Publishing Limited
ISBN (Print)978-1-78052-766-6
ISBN (elektronisch)978-1-78052-767-3
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 2013