مبانی: منظور از حسابداری محیطی (و اجتماعی) چه بوده و هدف آن چیست؟ واکنش به تورنتون
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 24 (2013) 459–468
2. مورد تونتون؟
3. پس حسابداری محیطی برای چیست؟
3.1 حسابداری مالی
3.2 حسابداری مدیریت و مدیریت محیطی
3.3 گزارش های محیطی
3.4 جوابگویی و حساب های جدید
4 جمع بندی
This paper seeks to explore whether mainstream financial accounting when it appears to genuflect to the ‘environment’ actually has anything substantive do with – or to say about – the natural world. It seems important to remember that conventional financial accounting is a predominantly economic – and not very internally logical – practice which has no substantive conceptual space for environmental or social matters per se. It has no space for what Thielemann calls ‘market alien values’ – values such as environmental concern. The paper re-examines why we might account at all and revisits why accounts which explicitly recognise environmental (and social) issues can be potentially very important indeed. What seems clear is that whilst any account that sought to reflect environmental and social exigencies might choose to use the technologies of accounting – notably debits and credits – there is no essential reason why they must do so. If we wish to account for an environment, we almost certainly would not start with the somewhat bizarre and tortured foundations of conventional financial accounting.
There were then. . .. and there are now people who think that they know what accounting. . .. . . is. How wrong these people are. (Hopwood, 2007, p. 1367) It is probably safe to start with a few statements of the obvious. We are all probably familiar with an accounting – that accounting which is based on the elegant and undoubtedly useful system of double-entry bookkeeping from which various streams of cost and management accounting develop and, in altogether more arcane ways, the craft of constructing financial statements emerges. And that basic accounting with which we are all so familiar is fundamentally based, as Dan Thornton’s paper correctly notes, on the maintenance of definite entity boundaries and the identification and recording of priced transactions crossing those boundaries.1 Indeed, the basic double entry bookkeeping system is interested only in the cost/price of the transaction and the accounting category to which it can be allocated. Other characteristics of the transaction are typically ignored. It all gets a lot more murky once the basic double entry is completed. Despite a rhetorical attachment to the objectivity and cost/ price-driven nature of our conventional accounting, once we pass from a basic trial balance on towards the composition of financial statements, the precise nature of accountants’ consistency and internal logic becomes ever harder to discern. That this accounting is all accounting, the only accounting or even the most desirable accounting is clearly not the case. The nature of giving and receiving accounts is not set in stone; is not part of a natural law; and, as Hopwood (2007) argues, has changed throughout history. Trite though it must be, any accounting is typically judged by a combination of the extent to which it meets the purposes that are – or could be – held for it, and the extent of the unanticipated (and particularly the malign) consequences of its application. Whilst much basic accounting might be thought of as primarily intended to support the running of an enterprise of one sort or another, it is quite apparent that much of the paraphernalia of financial accounting is not designed with that in mind. When we approach any accounting it behoves us, I should have thought, to remind ourselves why we think this activity matters. Implicitly, in one way or another, most financial accounting activity seems to be concerned with such matters as maximising shareholder wealth, helping distant and remote financial markets operate and, perhaps, helping navigate tensions between directors and the holders of investment capital. Financial accounting, per se, has no obvious interest in matters environmental.2 Now this probably wouldn’t matter (quite) so much if it were not the case that the natural environment is under the most appalling attack (UN, 2005; WWF, 2012) and that the very processes that conventional financial accounting seems designed to encourage are amongst the most likely causes of the environmental desecration, (Johnson, 2012). In these circumstances, it seems extremely important that any financial accounting which inexorably has the effect of encouraging growth, profit and efficiency at the inevitable expense of social and environmental damage (externalities as Dan Thornton has it) at least acknowledges this possibility, (Birkin and Polesie, 2012). Equally, if we are to try and move towards offering accounts of the natural environment (or moves towards claiming so to do) then it seems a sine qua non that such accounts must reflect the best available data reflecting the planetary state – ‘planetary accounts’ if you will, (Porritt, 2005). It is from this context that this brief set of reactions to Thornton’s (this issue) paper emerges. The following section offers one reading of ‘‘Green accounting and green eyeshades’’ in an attempt to understand Thornton’s arguments and to tease out his key points.3 The section is probably unsuccessful in this attempt. Section 3 returns to some very basic ideas about accounting and the natural environment and offers a range of possible purposes behind such human activity. As with a lot of previous work in ‘‘environmental’’ (and ‘‘social’’) accounting, this section privileges (versions of) the natural environment along with the more strictly human notion of accountability. The final section calls for reflection in accounting (and indeed in environmental and social accounting) about its purposes, its politics and its possibilities.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
I have understood the essential thrust in Dan Thornton’s paper to be that there is, to all intents and purposes, only one thing that can be called ‘‘accounting’’ and as accountants our interest and concerns should focus only on that. Further, if I read the paper correctly, we are asked to frame our explorations within the (typically implicit) assumptions of that ex cathedra accounting. Thus we should do nothing that might seek to recognise the highly political nature of accounting and accounting standards or anything to challenge accounting’s role at the heart of the growth of international financial capitalism. Then, (again if I follow correctly) any new issue – such as environmental concern – must and should be explored only through the lens of that extant accounting (Solomons, 1974). One doesn’t have to be any kind of critical theorist to find these ideas contestable. Whilst I find much to enjoy in the elements of basic accounting and I can find much to celebrate in small-scale capitalism and in social democratic capitalism, this does not blind me to the realisation that international financial capitalism and its principal engines and beneficiaries – the multi-national corporations – are in all probability amongst the principal causes of environmental crisis, social injustice and planetary un-sustainability. To the extent that these observations are correct (see, for example, WWF, 2012; Randers, 2012) then to approach our concern through the old lens of managerialism and accounting convention is to entirely miss the point – as Ban-Ki Moon suggests (Fig. 2) So, once accounting can be imagined as having some task beyond serving the managers of large corporations and their fickle investors then we start to see that accounting might well have an important function in helping individuals and societies navigate the worst excesses of modernity’s destructive relationship with nature and, indeed, with people. A world in which the larger organisations disclosed such things as eco-balances and ecological footprints; in which the interactions in all relationships between organisations and stakeholders were exposed, warts and all; when society could know the full extent of an organisation’s compliance with law and quasi law; would be unlikely to look a great deal like the world we now inhabit. This, I suggest, is the function of social, environmental and sustainability accounting – or, as I prefer to call it, ‘‘accounting’’.