Taking a Long View on What We Now Know About Social and Environmental Accountability and Reporting

Rob Gray


Sustainability and social responsibility appear to be occupying a place of increasing importancein the discourse surrounding business and organisation. As this discourse gains acceptance organisationsseek for ways to measure and manage their interactions in the field. Simultaneously,societal concerns for the way in which organisations represent themselves with respect tosocial responsibility and sustainability stimulate a need for wider accountability. This essayjoins a steadily growing trickle of papers which attempt to articulate and make sense of socialaccounting, accountability and reporting and, in so doing, offer suggestions for future directionsin research, teaching and/or practice. The primary purpose of this paper is to offer a viewof developments in social accounting in the last decade or so and to emphasise something I fearwe are in danger of losing – namely that sense of the importance of social accounting and theconsiderable critical potential of the social accounting project. The paper provides a brief introductionto the growth in the social accounting literature; a typology of research approaches tothe area; and a polemic on the crucial potential importance of social accounting. With thisbackground, the essay then takes a broad review of the social accounting literature and seeks tooffer some contentious perceptions on that research in the hope of stimulating debate. Copyright © www.iiste.org

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Issues In Social and Environmental Accounting (ISEA) - ISSN: 1978-0591