Editorial Notes

David Crowther

Abstract


It was initially apparent that the literatureconcerning traditional accountingand reporting and environmental accountingand reporting has developed astwo independent, and competing, discourseswith the implication that managingperformance along the two dimensionsof financial and environmentalperformance cannot be satisfactorilyachieved without compromising onedimension of performance for the benefitof the other. More recently this haschanged as companies and researchershave understood the need to incorporatesocial and environmental informationinto traditional reporting. Indeed this hasbecome so accepted that the triple bottomline form of reporting is graduallybeing replaced by integrated reporting,although this change is not universallyapproved of. Nevertheless change isslowly taking place – not just in the formof reporting but also the techniquesavailable. This change is brought aboutby the current focus upon sustainabilityand the need to account for the emissionsof greenhouse gases and other pollutants,a concern with human rights especiallyin the form of health and safetyissues and issues brought about by theincreasing need to operate, and thereforereport, into a global environment.Alongside these changes have been others.So for example the concept of corporatesocial responsibility has becomeubiquitous – in all walks of life andworldwide – and it is not possible to beoblivious to the concern with this issuewhich is gathering pace throughout theworld. Nor it is possible to escape fromthe plethora of calls for action or statementsof intent which surround this conceptas far as corporations are concerned.The concept of responsibilityalso needs however to apply to otherforms of organisation such as not forprofit organisations and governments.More significantly it needs also to applyto us all as individuals.

You will be aware that in the CSR literature,Corporate Social Responsibility isoften associated with the management ofrisk. In practice, CSR has become increasinglyimportant part of the processof corporate risk management. For examplein The Ernst & Young BusinessRisk Report 2010, social acceptance riskand CSR was mentioned as amongst thetop 10 risks for business. From a corporaterisk management point of view, it isimportant that we do responsible thingsbut also that we do things responsibly.Thus concern must not be focused onlyon risks associated with different CSRdimensions and activities but also withCSR as a part of responsible management,especially a part of responsiblerisk management. The key question wasnot only how negative CSR impacts canbe minimised but also how CSR opportunities can be maximised and CSR usedas a value enhancing concept.Ethics of course has a major part to playin dealing with the management of risk.And another area in which it figuresprominently is that of corporate governance.The recent sub-prime mortgagescandal in the USA effectively tippedthe world into recession while problemswith banks have continued to unfold.Not least of these is the lack of control atUBS leading to large losses and otherscandals. These are all issues which corporategovernance is designed to addressand prevent. Instead we have seen thelaxities in our approaches to doingthings despite the vast improvement inour collective knowledge and awarenessof the very many issues that surroundcorporate governance. Although thesecrises are indicative of the urgent needfor a change, however, the directionsand nature of the change required remainsan open guess at the moment.Consequently, there is obviously a widegap in our collective knowledge on howbest to deal with the contentious issuesthat may have precipitated these crises.Part of the fundamental problems is ourapparent disagreements on the rootcauses of these crises. Whilst we agreeon some of the causes, such as fraudulentfinancial reporting, greed and recklessness,and poor regulatory oversights,we nonetheless hold wide divergingviews on other potential causes, such asthe role of short termism vs. longtermism, executive compensations, poorrisk attitude, hedge funds and their regulationsetc. It is therefore not surprisingthat we are also still very unclear aboutthe solutions to the corporate governancechallenges confronting us. Whilesome have suggested a globalised corporategovernance code that harmonisesthe existing codes which countries canadopt as their national codes or evenadapt to their specific needs, others havecautioned against what has been describedas ‘ a one size fits all’ approach.While calls have been made in somequarters for more stringent regulatoryframework, others have strongly cautionedagainst regulations overloadwhich may eventually stifle managementand distract them from creating values inthe organisation.

Thus the discourse of issues which are inneed to further attention continues toevolve and the topics dealt with in thisjournal evolves with it. Indeed the aim inthe production of this therefore is to furtherthe discourse. In doing so howeverit is also one of changing this global villageinto a global community. And in acommunity everyone has a voice, eventhose dissenting – again one of the aimsof this journal. So I encourage you tojoin this discourse and help shape it bypublishing your papers in the journal.There is nothing further to say at thispoint, from an editorial perspective, exceptto read the content and more particularlycontribute to the debate.


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Issues In Social and Environmental Accounting (ISEA) - ISSN: 1978-0591