The greening of enterprise: an exploration of the (non) role of environmental accounting and environmental accountants in organisational change

Rob Gray, Diane Walters, Jan Bebbington, Ian Thompson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    This paper is predominantly an empirical investigation which reports upon a part of a continuing project into the "greening of accounting", (Gray, 1990; 1992; Gray et al., Bebbington et al., 1994) In particular, the paper reports upon the field work undertaken to attempt to assess what, if anything, accountants were doing-and could do-to help organizations respond to the environmental agenda. The paper is motivated by Power's (1992) argument that change in accounting can have a significant influence on conceptions of the organization but that the direction of such influence cannot be predicted. The investigation is grounded in Laughlin's (1991) model of organizational change and Llewellyn's (1993) explanations of organizational boundary management. The bulk of the paper attempts to explicate these models in the context of change in the natural environment agenda. The empirical investigation then attempts to link observations about current organizational behaviour with these models. However, it becomes apparent that conventional accounting practice is having little, if any, (positive) influence on this process. We do find evidence of a increase in "environmental account" which, it seems, are playing an important role in both aiding the development of the organizations' environmental agenda and helping negotiate the meaning of "the natural environment" for organizations. Whilst we are more positive about the potential for such accounts-and a potential role for accountants-we do conclude by recognizing that questioning the benign nature of "environmental accounting" is a far from trivial activity, (see, for example, Cooper, 1992). © 1995 Academic Press. All rights reserved.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)211-239
    Number of pages29
    JournalCritical Perspectives on Accounting
    Volume6
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 1995

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