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The adoption of the materiality concept in social and environmental reporting assurance: A field study approach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Accounting Review
Volume47
Issue number1
Early online date15 Nov 2014
DOIs
DateAccepted/In press - 5 Nov 2014
DateE-pub ahead of print - 15 Nov 2014
DatePublished (current) - 1 Mar 2015

Abstract

This study investigates the logics or values that shape the social and environmental reporting (SER) and SER assurance (SERA) process. The influence of logics is observed through a study of the conceptualisation and operationalisation of the materiality concept by accounting and non-accounting assurors and their assurance statements. We gathered qualitative data from interviews with both accounting and non-accounting assurors. We analysed the interplay between old and new logics that are shaping materiality as a reporting concept in SER. SER is a rich field in which to study the dynamics of change because it is a voluntary, unregulated, qualitative reporting arena. It has a broad, stakeholder audience, where accounting and non-accounting organisations are in competition. There are three key findings. First, the introduction of a new, stakeholder logic has significantly changed the meaning and role of materiality. Second, a more versatile, performative, social understanding of materiality was portrayed by assurors, with a forward-looking rather than a historic focus. Third, competing logics have encouraged different beliefs about materiality, and practices, to develop. This influenced the way assurors theorised the concept and interpreted outcomes. A patchwork of localised understandings of materiality is developing. Policy implications both in SERA and also in financial audit are explored.

    Research areas

  • Institutional logics, Materiality, Social and environmental reporting assurance (SERA)

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  • Full-text PDF (accepted author manuscript)

    Rights statement: This is the accepted author manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) is available online via Elsevier at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bar.2014.11.001. Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

    Accepted author manuscript, 398 KB, PDF-document

    Licence: CC BY-NC-ND

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