Struggling with the praxis of social accounting: stakeholders, accountability, audits and procedures

Rob Gray, Colin Dey, Dave Owen, Richard Evans, Simon Zadek

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    220 Citations (Scopus)


    Addresses three related, though not entirely congruent, aims. Seeks, first, to initiate moves towards a “normative theory” ‐ a conceptual framework ‐ for the developing of social accounting by organizations. Second, aims inductively to draw out best practice from a range of social accounting experiments, illustrated, in particular, by reference to two short cases from Traidcraft plc and Traidcraft Exchange. Third, draws from the conclusions reached in the exploration of the first two aims and attempts to identify any clear “social accounting standards” or “generally acceptable social accounting principles” which can be used to guide the new and emerging social accounting practice. Presents a number of subtexts which attempt to link back to the accounting literature’s more trenchant critiques of social accounting; to address the tension between academic theorizing and engaging with practice; to synthesize different approaches to social accounting practice; and to respond to the urgency that the recent upsurge in interest in social accounting places on the newly formed Institute of Social and Ethical Accountability. An ambitious paper which means that coverage of issues must be thinner than might typically be expected ‐ exploratory, rather than providing answer, offers a collective view from experience and encourage engagement with the rapidly evolving social accounting agenda.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)325-364
    Number of pages40
    JournalAccounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 1997


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