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|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|290||2010||11 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Volume 21, Issue 4, April 2010, Pages 283–293
Neo-institutional theory can increase understanding of an organization's general response to social and environmental issues and social activism. More particularly, it can frame an organization's accounting responses. The analytical schema proposed by Lounsbury (1997) is deployed to explore social and environmental accounting issues that occurred in two local government authorities—one in Canada, one in England. Our analysis highlights possibilities for better and more complete theories of organizational transformation, and social and environmental accounting. We stress the importance of ethical values and ecological thinking if change (including accounting change) is to help institutions behave in a way that is conducive to achieving a sustainable future.
Institutional theory, and particularly “new institutionalism”, represents “a major research paradigm in organisational sociology” (Lounsbury, 1997, p. 465). In this paper we develop and extend institutional analyses of organisations (henceforth referred to as “institutional theory”). Such analyses have been provided by Lounsbury, 1997 and Lounsbury, 2008 and Dillard et al. (2004), among others. Our purpose is to advance normative perspectives of social and environmental accounting. We explore the roles that new accountings should play in change processes by assessing the capacity of institutional theory to provide a fuller understanding of change. In particular, we assess how institutional theory can enrich understanding of the changes organizations make in response to social and environmental issues. We make strong recourse to neo-institutionalism: that is, to a theory of organizational change that diverges from popular understanding of institutional theory as an explanator of similarity (“isomorphism”) associated with the “new institutionalism” of DiMaggio and Powell (1983) and Meyer and Rowan (1977). Institutional theory emphasises the survival value of conformity with the institutional environment. Such conformity leads, for example, to increased stability, legitimacy, and access to resources. Institutional theory endorses adherence to external rules and norms. So, socially responsible, ethically good environmental behaviour (reflected in “new accountings”) is explainable by these new “external norms or practices obtain[ing] the status of social fact”; and by legitimacy arguments that organizations respond only when it becomes “obvious or proper” to do so (Oliver, 1992, p. 148). A common current depiction of social and environmental accounting is that it is an outcome of processes of legitimation and social reproduction ( Neu et al., 1998, Wilmshurst and Frost, 2000, Deegan et al., 2002 and Campbell, 2003). By appropriating the theoretical language of institutional theory, we raise questions of whether proponents of normative models of social and environmental accounting have paid sufficient attention to the choices about accounting which are embedded in cultural and historical frameworks. For example, are organizational choices about accounting strategic, enlightened, and self-interested responses of the type implied by Gray, 1992 and Gray, 2002 accountability model? The focus of this widely endorsed model is on an implicit assumption of a strategic or enlightened self-interested response by organizations to environmental (and social) pressures. The tendency to focus on individual organisation(s) as the level of analysis in social and environmental accounting research also raises the question of whether sufficient attention has been accorded to the broader institutional environment. An institution-based level of analysis (as here) has the benefit of emphasising organizational structures or processes that are industry wide, national or international in scope, and self-sustaining. Nonetheless, despite the insights of institutional theorists and the potentialities of institutional theory, social and environmental accounting research has been inconsistent (despite being greatly exercised) in its attempts to engage with practice, especially at an institutional level. This suggests the possibility that such engagement is beyond the wherewithal of a large cohort of researchers because it “requires new imaginings of new accountings which can be manifest through various practices … [and needs to be directed to] … engagement, committees, reporting awards, difficult field work with unsympathetic corporate managements, speaking engagements to indifferent or abusive accountants (Gray, 2002, p. 700).” Limitations in approaches to the development of social and environmental accounting, identified by Gray (2002), thus indicate the appeal of appropriating alternative ways to explain findings about environmental accounting and change in organizations. One such alternative way is reviewed here: an institutionally-oriented schema or “tool kit” proposed by Lounsbury (1991). To illustrate how institutional theory can be invoked usefully in social and environmental accounting research, we draw on a grounding of empirical experience in fieldwork enquiry and observation in an important (but under-researched) institutional form (local government authorities). In doing so, we build on the analysis and insights provided hitherto by studies by Ball, 2005 and Ball, 2007 of two local government authorities—both were municipal councils (one in Canada, one in England). The institution of local government has had a long history of providing services in response to problems that have challenged the scope of the market economy. Historically, local governments have been stewards of the local environment: they offer social, environmental and community services capable of addressing different dimensions of the sustainability agenda. As a consequence, because local governments have the potential to be at the vanguard of the development of social and environmental accounting, we should not ignore them (Lewis, 2000, Morris, 2001, O’Riordan, 1998 and WWF-UK, 2000). Lounsbury's (1997) institutional tool kit is a two dimensional matrix of institutional approaches. It helps provide alternative explanations of environmental accounting and change by local governments. Despite some limitations of the analogically-based theorising this institutional toolkit utilises (Zald and Berger, 1978), it is useful in identifying significant gaps in understanding of organizational transformation. By deploying this tool kit, possibilities for a more complete theory of change are increased, and deeper questions are likely to arise concerning orienting principles for a normative social and environmental accounting agenda. Building on Lounsbury (2008) as well, our analysis contributes to understanding of how institutional theory and accounting practice intersect. We draw attention to how institutional approaches can frame ideas about social change and accounting practice; and suggest some areas (such as social premises, power relations, values and interests, intentionality, and multi-dimensionality) that need to be developed to obtain a fuller and better understanding of change in the context of the environment and accounting. There seems good prospect that the institutional tool kit will help develop “a meta-theory for social accounting” and help engender recognition of the vacuousness of obsession with “stakeholder dialogue, in isolation” (Gray, 2002, p. 703).
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The preceding exploration supports contention by Greenwood and Hinings (1996) and Lounsbury, 1997 and Lounsbury, 2008, among others, that institutional theory can help in developing explanations of change. We now highlight several areas in which we can develop a fuller understanding of change in the context of environment and accounting, by engaging Lounsbury's four dimensional tool kit. Quadrant 1 highlights how social and environmental accounting literature under-specifies social pressures. The suggestion is that there have been taken-for-granted assumptions about the direction of public pressure; that is, whilst interests and agency are a cornerstones of accountability models, there has been little empirical work attending to this dimension. Indeed, the focus has tended to be applied to what are assumed to be fixed stakeholder interests. Future research using the macro/interests lens should pay greater attention to how political interest groups are mobilized. Additionally, there would be considerable merit in engaging the macro interests lens to situate an organization within its field of power relations. This would enhance thinking about “fracture lines” (Lounsbury, 2002a and Lounsbury, 2002b) within institutions, and be conducive to the emergence of a more nuanced understanding of social pressure in closely specified situations. Importantly, as well, is the use of the macro/interests lens to draw attention to the possibility of a perspective based on “social movements in organizations” (Lounsbury, 1997, Lounsbury, 2002a and Lounsbury, 2002b). One implication of this is that researchers should pay greater attention to the interests, beliefs, and activities of managers in organizations under scrutiny; and that they should recognise the pursuit of distinctive interests by employees despite conditions of powerful institutional constraint. If there are processes of re-institutionalisation in the context of the sustainability agenda, attention should be directed to determining which power and interests are shaping the change, and whether we can locate the processes involved historically. Desirably, the main thrust of research efforts examining the efficacy of social and environmental interventions should be located in Quadrant 2. Thus, there would be greater attention to values and interests. Quadrant 3 offers the benefit of being a means whereby change in the context of environment can be progressed. From the perspective of normative agendas on environmental accounting and change, the micro/habits lens suggests we direct attention to how organizations make sense of sustainability through new service offerings and accounting practices. Consistent with Townley (2002) (among others), what is needed is a sense-making engagement, or understanding of different rationalities within a sphere. Thus, those involved in attempts to develop social and environmental accounting research should themselves make better sense of sustainability and all that it entails, both conceptually and practically. The new institutionalism of quadrant 4 helps provide the basis of a much-needed critique of managerialist environmental accounting interventions (Gray, 2002), and of the UK Labour Party's agenda of national standards and performance indicators for local government ( Ball, 2002 and Morris, 2001). Attempts to develop social accounting normatively have had a distinctive structural position based on a fundamental concern with social change. They have tended to be influenced by Marxist intellectual tradition and a radical critique which has challenged capitalistic hegemony strongly. However, there is considerable merit in departing from critical theory to consider whether environmental accounting interventions are successful or not (Gray and Tinker, 2001). Viewing those developments in terms of macro and micro perspectives and from a theory of action perspective has many potential benefits too. Adopting the comprehensive approach advocated by Lounsbury offers a way of addressing the problems of understanding processes of institutional change and highlighting possibilities for future research. Efforts to grapple with the problems of a theory of change are notable for their abstracting processes. Nonetheless, they develop causes of variation in institutional development. From the perspective of social and environmental accounting, these are alarmingly acontextual. Two important limitations arise: first, much literature on institutionalism is set at too great a distance from social and environmental accounting; and second, decentring concerns about class and conflict are not addressed adequately. Another important issue is whether institutional theorists have accorded social and environmental accounting an air of surrogacy: that is, does the arena of social and environmental accounting simply generate just another set of questions through which to improve organizational analysis?