Environmental accounting in China: the case of a medium sized Chinese state owned enterprise
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the discussions about the radical change that is required if any notion of sustainability is to hold in the future. It is hypothesised that developments in environmental sustainability accounting are likely to take place in China because it has both a tradition of harmony in its predominant philosophical schools and it has a political system based on strong government that is able to shape approaches to sustainability. Design/methodology/approach –The paper contains a synthesis of the literature on environmental accounting and on episteme change. Using a Foucauldian epistemic framework and method, a case of a Chinese state owned enterprise is examined for evidence of developments in environmental accounting and of the attitudes of the accountants implementing changes to the accounting systems to incorporate such developments. Findings – Developments in environmental accounting are found to mirror the developments in environmental management more generally. The influences on these developments are found to be rooted in a life-centred morality based on Chinese philosophy, invention using new technologies, removal of some of the barriers caused by specialisation and an awareness of issues linked to anthropocosmic (rather than anthropocentric) notions of world order. Practical implications – A case such as this opens the door for Chinese organisations to move towards environmental sustainability and its associated accounting in ways that are not mimetic of practices in other parts of the world (i.e. the West). This means that China could lead the world in new approaches to accounting for sustainability that do more than reduce organisations’ short term reputational risk. Originality/value – This paper builds on the theoretical work on episteme change and the possibility of a new primal episteme by applying it to a Chinese organisation so as to test the theory as developed originally by Foucault.
Citation : Margerison, J. (2014) Environmental accounting in China: the case of a medium sized Chinese state owned enterprise. Accounting and Finance Occasional Paper Series, 3
ISSN : 22049-5528
Peer Reviewed : Yes