The legitimacy of accountants’ participation in social and ethical accounting, auditing and reporting

Business Ethics, the Environment and Responsibility 10 (1):27-39 (2001)
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Abstract

This paper discusses the legitimacy of accountants’ recent involvement in social and ethical accounting, auditing and reporting. Support for accountants’ legitimacy is proposed by highlighting some of the technical skills they offer to the SEAAR process as conceived in AA1000. It is argued that the relevance of these skills is strengthened within a conception of SEAAR which principally perceives it as a risk/stakeholder management process focused primarily on the concerns of corporate management as opposed to those of the wider society. However, the paper moves on to maintain that if we wish to promote a conception of SEAAR primarily focused on accountability to stakeholders as opposed to risk/stakeholder management, then, particularly in the domain of external social audit, the legitimacy of accountants’ participation may be disputed. The paper therefore concludes by cautioning against facilitating the unquestioned entry of accountants into the realm of SEAAR.

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