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Waikato Management School
Te Raupapa

ACCT507-17S (HAM) - Accounting, Sustainability and a Changing Environment (2017)

Introduction

Credit points

30.00

Calendar description

A study of the potential role(s) of accounting in the journey to a sustainable civilisation. A key theme in the paper is change with a particular focus on how changes in thinking must inform changes in action.

Handbook description

A study of the potential role of accounting in the journey to a sustainable civilisation. A key theme in the paper is change, with a particular focus on how changes in thinking must inform changes in action.

Extended Information

This paper provides a study of the purposes of business education and accounting in 21st century society. The influence of business practices on society grew hugely during the 20th century; this created many problems for humankind. In the latter half of the 20th century much effort went in to growing business units, and the profits which they made. Unfortunately these practices started to threaten environmental, societal and other sectors of the living world. Some commentators suggested that the resultant business practices were unsustainable, if humankind were to survive on earth. It was recognised that the decision-making information that accountants were providing to managers was too limited in scope and must be reconsidered. However, many powerful business people did not accept this analysis. The tension involved in determining how best businesses should organise their activities in society is ongoing, and will be explored in the paper.

Nowadays many business organisations have recognised that they have some responsibility for accounting for the effects of their business practices on the world in general, and must disclose social and environmental information in their annual reports. These disclosures are often based on management accounting information systems, and often are not audited. Social and environmental disclosures are mostly of a voluntary nature and therefore it is of interest to understand the value organisations derive from them, who the reports are aimed at, whether those parties find them useful, and in which ways they are useful. These matters have practical implications for professional accountants, managers, capital market participants, and regulators, as well as those who are specifically concerned with justice concerning social and environmental issues.