Editorial Notes Research in Social and Environmental Accounting: Future Directions

Alistair M. Brown


Volume 4 Issue 1 of Issues in Social andEnvironmental Accounting (Issues inSEA) heralds social and environmentalresponsibility articles from afar as Japan,Indonesia, Malaysia and Canada, suggesting,one way or another, the journalitself is becoming known around thetraps as a southern hemisphere forum forsocial and environmental accounting.This is a useful thing as commentary onthese issues seems to be cornered by atight circle of self-referential northernhemisphere (and satellite New Zealand/Eastern Australian old-guard) academics.To sustain and ratchet-up this interest,the SEA editorial board needs tothink over the journal’s future directionsbased on its current strengths.Although it defines itself as an internationaljournal, Issues in SEA might considerdrawing more submissions from itsbackyard. Social and environmental accountingissues are, of course, critical inNew Guinea, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, andSumatra, and Issues in SEA’s uniqueeditorial personnel and communicationprocesses have the potential to beef upvoices from those local communities.This is a worthy consideration becausethe key commercial players on theseislands are loggers, farmers and minerswho treat forests, air and rain as nonpriced/non-costed free goods but at thesame time can legitimise their activitiesthrough annual reports, stand-alone sustainabilityreports, stand-alone corporatesocial responsibility reports, stand-aloneenvironmental reports, online reportsand accommodating national broadsheets.Locals – traditional foresters,local government authorities and subsistentvillagers - need an outlet like Issuesin SEA to explain the social and environmentalaccounting consequences of livingwith these commercial interlopers.Pacific Accounting Review is a usefulmodel to follow in terms of gatheringnew voices. In a recent special editionentitled Pacific Odyssey: views of accountingin the South Seas from the centreand from the periphery, the guesteditors Dixon and Gaffikin were able tosecure high quality insights of contextualPacific accounting that put at oddssome of the more celebrated peripheralviewpoints. It is unclear how much timeand effort was expended by referees andeditorial board members on this exercise,but to test the water Issues in SEAmight consider a special edition of viewsof accounting from the centre of theSunda and Sahul Shelves.

In this context, there appears to be roomfor activism. It is not enough for Indonesiansto be passive recipients of internationalaccounting cargo. The paucity ofwork done by international accountingbodies on the possibilities of oral accountingin non-literate regions could be addressed by Issues in SEA by gatheringviewpoints from non-literate contributorsthrough, for example, actionresearchtranscription of mother-tonguedcommentaries. Such narratives of themarginalised would not only give Issuesin SEA a pull in local language audiencebut also, more importantly, open up adiscourse of social and environmentalissues that might pave the way for improvedmethods of oral accounting.But perhaps a key long-term direction ofIssues in SEA is to use its available localintellectual and human capital resourcesto help boost its contributions of‘professional’ papers. There is a lot ofpuff given on online reporting andsearch engines and how readership canmultiply through improved digital technologies.Yet most of the world’s citizensdon’t have internet access. Issues inSEA may do well by sticking to traditionalprint and distributing articles to arising literate ‘professional’ readershipthat is not necessarily in a position toenjoy fruits of the internet but is eager togather accessible scholarship about local,regional and international social andenvironmental accounting issues.

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