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Processes of sustainability accounting and management. A systematic review.

1. Introduction

As established business companies chiefly pursue a market logic that concentrates on producing profit, they cannot deal with the intricacies of sustainable advancement and the various choices of their stakeholders. Sustainable business patterns pursue a wide-ranging sustainability logic (Nica, 2015a, b, c, d) that put together economic, ecological, and social issues concerning current and subsequent generations. During the course of mechanisms of strategic and operational management (Mihaila, 2016a, b), assessments are taken that are pivotal for a company's sustainability. The arrangement of accounting systems for corporate sustainability, the gathering of information, and the management of corporate sustainability connected with the gathered information are frequently entirely carried out by members of business companies. Prevalence of economic suppositions and objectives in corporate sustainability accounting and management may hinder the development of a sustainability logic. (Schneider, 2015)

2. Stakeholder Involvement in, Democratic Kinds of, and the Democratic Shortfall of Sustainability Accounting and Management

Economic goals may become the critical objective of corporate sustainability, without considering that economic, ecological, and social issues are of comparable significance for sustainable advancement. The democratic involvement of stakeholders in administrative information acquisition and decision making (Nica, Manole, and Briscariu, 2016) facilitates the management of the intricacy of matters of sustainability and the cognizance of the demands of various stakeholders in an unbiased way. The participation of stakeholders in sustainability accounting and management is a hopeful manner to associate business undertakings with sustainable advancement. Democratic involvement of administrative stakeholders in sustainability accounting and management is a feasible manner in which corporate sustainability may be instrumental in sustainable advancement. The notion of reflexivity is the incessant examination of the views of the stakeholders impacted by corporate sustainability (Popescu, 2016) and the consideration to the link between the objectives of corporate sustainability and the one of sustainable advancement. (Schneider, 2015) Sustainability reporting is an essential reporting process of an entity's responsibilities, and if it has a function in the local government program supporting sustainable advancement, then the task of the accountant in engaging in advancing reporting frameworks and instruments is obvious. With their essential reporting, technical and analytical skill collections, the accountant may be important in relation to the advancement of sustainability reporting. With accounting as a crucial mechanism in planning the subsequent direction of entities in relation to sustainable development (Popescu, Comanescu, and Sabie, 2016), accountants are instrumental in the development of sustainability reporting. Because sustainability harmonizes outside the established function of the accountant, this may cause limitations being positioned around the accountant's participation, thus making sure that they do not get the required abilities to be entailed. (Williams, 2015)

The gulf between the manner organizational members grasp sustainability matters and the undertaking and schemes pursued at the organizational level indicates that inside numerous entities there may be an undeveloped capacity for more practical reactions to sustainability that does not entirely emerge, and frequently persons' perspectives on sustainability do not trickle up to apprise organizational-level reactions to sustainability matters. Entities may generate circumstances improve organizational members' construals of sustainability matters to influence administrative reactions to sustainability tasks. Such an enablement entails organizational arrangements and cultures (Lazaroiu, 2015a, b, c; 2014) that promote plurality and acknowledge disagreement. The manner how people in organizations are compatible with sustainability matters impacts the kind of reaction they embrace on these matters. (Hahn and Aragon-Correa, 2015) Sustainability reporting is a standard and suitable component of a rather confined issues-based sector established around a neutral rhetoric of sustainability (Popescu, 2015a, b, c, d), being an essential social routine in how this rhetoric is created, reproduced and sustained. Irrespective of sector, magnitude and geography there are shared grasps regarding stakeholder groups and their demands and requirements, and a series of shared routines about being instrumental in sustainable advancement. (Higgins, Stubbs, and Milne, 2016)

3. The Capacity of Democratic Sustainability Accounting and Management for Regulating Corporate Sustainability and Sustainable Advancement

Considering the considerable relevance of business companies for sustainable advancement, the notion of corporate sustainability is a concretization of the pattern of sustainable advancement for the framework of business companies. A key requirement for the rise of sustainable business patterns is the overwhelming of a simplistic economic tendency in furtherance of a wideranging sustainability tendency. Determined by the kind of logic that influences mechanisms of sustainability accounting and management, the current tendency of corporate sustainability (Popescu, 2015a, b, c, d) may either concentrate on economic concerns or on the goal of sustainable advancement. Regarding sustainability-oriented corporate sustainability, the economic, green, and social operation of a business company (Nica, 2016) is instrumental in the critical objective of sustainable advancement. Concerning market-oriented corporate sustainability, the green and social inputs of business companies to sustainable advancement target the accomplishment of the critical objective of the financial performance of the companies. (Schneider, 2015) Rationalizing sustainability is key to corporate greening. The information uncovered in sustainability reports is influenced somewhat by neutralization techniques and less than by aiming superior openness and agreement with reporting criteria. Biodiversity reporting and sustainability reports are influenced by neutralization techniques and impression management schemes for no less than these integrative grounds: the reputational risks, associated with the intensifying institutional constraints for conserving biodiversity, concentrate on explanations instead of undertakings in sustainability reporting, organizational acquirement of information, and absence of quantifiability of biodiversity performance. Clarifications of entities' engagement are frequently exaggerated (Popescu Ljungholm, 2016a, b, c, d) via representations and reports highlighting the relevance of conserving natural habitats to preserve life on earth. Attaining sustainability and sustaining biodiversity necessitate concrete measures. Sustainability reports are not a trustworthy instrument for strengthening the biodiversity responsibility of mining entities. (Boiral, 2016)

Even though cognitive frames and sensemaking assist in grasping how distinct decision makers sense and construe sustainability matters (Bratu, 2016a, b; 2015), there is no direct connection between the explanation of a sustainability matters and the planned reaction taken at the organizational level. Organizational members consider various cognitive frames and unsimilar construals of sustainability matters (Popescu, 2015a, b, c, d) that differentiate among each other and with the sustainability scheme of the entity. Sensegiving clarifies which construals of sustainability matters outshine in an organizational framework and influence organizational undertaking and informs that the sustainability construals of the individuals who do not have the political abilities or the chance to advance their opinions are weakened and disregarded. (Hahn and Aragon-Correa, 2015)

4. The Participation of Accountants in Sustainability Reporting Practices

A prevalence of economic concerns in corporate sustainability may achieve a steady alteration of the implication of the ideas of corporate sustainability and sustainable advancement in relation to market logic. The more sustainability accounting and management concentrate on economic goals (Popescu, Ciurlau, and Bitoiu, 2016), the less expected is that subsequent business routines in the spheres of sustainability accounting and management will comply with ecological and social matters which are not directly instrumental in the economic accomplishment of a business company (Popescu, 2015a, b, c, d), and the less expected are the likelihoods of a rise of a sustainability-oriented proposal to corporate sustainability. Both accounting and management designed for carrying out corporate sustainability should be capable of considering a diversity of information, concerns, and views of the various stakeholders, which are important in the circumstances of corporate sustainability and sustainable advancement. (Schneider, 2015) Accountants should build up a well-defined grasp of what sustainability is in order that they perceive how they can be used in assisting in advancing procedures to sustainability. If there is not favorable reception and undertaking by management at the organizational level (Nica and Potcovaru, 2015) in relation to the incorporation of sustainable advancement undertakings and sustainability reporting mechanism, this hampers additional incorporation of accountants in the reporting mechanism. If sustainable advancement does not permeate further than the administrative level in local authorities, this assists in fortifying the grounds for mandated sustainability reporting preconditions within the public sphere. (Williams, 2015)

Adopting a variety of perspectives on sustainability matters inside entities improves organizational reflexivity on corporate reactions to sustainability. Organizational-level elements are instrumental in establishing if questionable dispute and exchange of various interpretations of sustainability will arise. Plurality entails that cost-effectiveness (Popescu and Bitoiu, 2016) is not the exclusive condition for the favorable outcome of corporate sustainability proposals. Empowerment, organizational climate, and decentralization are organizational-level elements that might further multiplicity of cognition of administrative members on sustainability matters. (Hahn and Aragon-Correa, 2015) For companies that aim to be related to sustainability, the interplay they try to find and institute brings about isomorphism in discursive and material routine covering sustainability. The latter shapes a broad diversity of kinds of companies and their requirement to integrate and embrace standard and satisfactory routines (Nica, Manole, and Potcovaru, 2016) is powerful. Notwithstanding their size, several companies that operate in sectors or economies where reporting is prevalent might not report or carry out other sustainability routines as they have not undergone difficulties in dealing with sustainability responsibilities. Otherwise, they may try to find interplays that may position them in a sustainability-related issues-based sphere. (Higgins, Stubbs, and Milne, 2016)

5. Conclusions

A democratization of sustainability accounting and management may supply the informational starting point for choices made by business companies that consider all sustainability-related features of their undertakings (Stefanescu-Mihaila, 2016; 2015) and to concurrently deal with the concerns of diverse stakeholders significant both in corporate sustainability (Popescu and Bitoiu, 2016) and in the mechanism of sustainable advancement. Reflexivity might generate cooperative attainments on the level of a business company (Popescu, 2015a, b, c, d), associating organizational choices with the encompassing objective of sustainable advancement, and to more participative types of corporate sustainability accounting and management. (Schneider, 2015)


Spiru Haret University

Received 22 May 2015 * Received in revised form 18 March 2016

Accepted 19 March 2016 * Available online 15 April 2016


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Author:Ionescu, Luminita
Publication:Economics, Management, and Financial Markets
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2016
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