Accounts of nature and the nature of accounts : critical reflections on environmental accounting and propositions for ecologically informed accounting
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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to review and synthesise academic research in environmental accounting and demonstrate its shortcomings. It provokes scholars to rethink their conceptions of “accounts” and “nature”, and alongside others in this AAAJ special issue, provides the basis for an agenda for theoretical and empirical research that begins to “ecologise” accounting. Design/methodology/approach Utilising a wide range of thought from accounting, geography, sociology, political ecology, nature writing and social activism, the paper provides an analysis and critique of key themes associated with 40 years research in environmental accounting. It then considers how that broad base of work in social science, particularly pragmatic sociology (e.g. Latour, Boltanksi and Thévenot), could contribute to reimagining an ecologically informed accounting. Findings Environmental accounting research overwhelmingly focuses on economic entities and their inputs and outputs. Conceptually, an “information throughput” model dominates. There is little or no environment in environmental accounting, and certainly no ecology. The papers in this AAAJ special issue contribute to these themes, and alongside social science literature, indicate significant opportunities for research to begin to overcome them. Research limitations/implications This paper outlines and encourages the advancement of ecological accounts and accountabilities drawing on conceptual resources across social sciences, arts and humanities. It identifies areas for research to develop its interdisciplinary potential to contribute to ecological sustainability and social justice. Originality/value How to “ecologise” accounting and conceptualise human and non-human entities has received little attention in accounting research. This paper and AAAJ special issue provides empirical, practical and theoretical material to advance further work.
Russell , S L , Milne , M & Dey , C 2017 , ' Accounts of nature and the nature of accounts : critical reflections on environmental accounting and propositions for ecologically informed accounting ' , Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal , vol. 30 , no. 7 , pp. 1426-1458 . https://doi.org/10.1108/AAAJ-07-2017-3010
Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal
Copyright © 2017, Emerald Group Publishing Limited. This work is made available online in accordance with the publisher’s policies. This is the author created, accepted version manuscript following peer review and may differ slightly from the final published version. The final published version of this work is available at https://doi.org/10.1108/AAAJ-07-2017-3010
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