Victoria University

Assessing the Potential for Agonistic Engagement Among Accountants: A quasi-experimental repeated Q study of social and environmental reporting

ResearchArchive/Manakin Repository

Show simple item record

dc.contributor.advisor Brown, Judy
dc.contributor.advisor Dillard, Jesse Sorola, Matthew 2018-01-16T02:26:17Z 2018-01-16T02:26:17Z 2017 2017
dc.description.abstract A number of writers have recently criticised a perceived narrowness in accountants’ understanding of their profession. In particular, they claim that the predominant focus on shareholders and capital markets may be at the expense of wider public interests that accounting should serve. As accountants engage increasingly with a variety of complex and politically contentious issues, there is cause for concern regarding their capacity to represent and engage with non-financial interests. Some of these concerns are reflected in ongoing debates regarding social and environmental reporting (SER). Accountants are important players in the SER field. They have high-profile roles as self-proclaimed ‘thought leaders’ in areas such as sustainability and integrated reporting, and are increasingly involved in developing SER concepts and practices, discussion papers and best practice guidance. These technologies increasingly rely on, and are legitimised by, their incorporation of a plurality of perspectives. However, both academics and civil society groups have raised concerns that professional accounting bodies are too closely aligned with business interests, and prioritise ‘business case’ (BC) understandings of concepts such as SER, which favour shareholder-oriented perspectives. As in other areas of policy controversy, the capacity to engage with a plurality of perspectives is important because of its impact on, inter alia, the issues that are recognised, how problems are conceived and responded to, and which or whose perspectives are prioritised. While prior research has explored management and stakeholder perspectives, there has been very little research to date on accountants’ perspectives on SER. Relatedly, relatively little is known about accountants’ abilities to incorporate a multiplicity of views when attempting to engage with complex issues. This study seeks to fill this gap. My research was designed as a quasi-experimental investigation that uses Constructive Conflict Methodology (CCM) and Q methodology (QM) to examine divergent perspectives of SER among three groups of accountants: academics, practitioners, and students. In particular, my research explores the use of CCM as a framework, which when implemented via QM, can help operationalise the theoretical developments of an agonistic approach to critical dialogic accounting (CDA). Drawing on applications of CCM and QM in political theory and policy analysis, my research design is divided into two distinct phases. Phase One focuses on identifying and understanding the range of perspectives among participants regarding SER. Informed by this understanding, Phase Two develops a workshop, the SER Dialogue, to bring together participants who are representative of the diverse perspectives identified. In Phase One, 34 participants’ perspectives of SER were explored through a mix of semi-structured interviews, questionnaires and QM. The participants evidenced a range of diverse understandings of SER, with three general approaches identified from participants’ Q data: the Critical (F1(CR)), Business Case (F2(BC)) and Incremental Change (F3(INC)) approaches. These general categorisations helped identify differences, inconsistencies and contradictions in the participants’ ideological orientations and illustrated the contested discursive landscape within which SER is conceptualised. Participants’ alignment with each general category also identified possible constraints in their capacity to recognise and understand divergent perspectives. Informed by these insights, Phase Two focused on developing a discursive space for agonistic pluralist engagement (the SER Dialogue) with a group of participants, representing the three diverse perspectives. Ultimately, these participants had both a larger number and magnitude of shifts in their perspective of SER compared to a control group. There was also a general increase in alignment with F1(CR), with many participants demonstrating the development of critically pluralist and reflexive understandings. These findings illustrate the potential for agonistic pluralist engagement to develop accountants’ capacity for pluralist engagement with perspectives surrounding complex and politically contentious issues, while also enabling resistance to the hegemony of BC perspectives within the field of accounting. en_NZ
dc.language.iso en_NZ
dc.publisher Victoria University of Wellington en_NZ
dc.subject Critical dialogic accounting en_NZ
dc.subject Agonistic engagement en_NZ
dc.subject Q methodology en_NZ
dc.subject Constructive Conflict Methodology en_NZ
dc.title Assessing the Potential for Agonistic Engagement Among Accountants: A quasi-experimental repeated Q study of social and environmental reporting en_NZ
dc.title.alternative Assessing Agonistic Engagement en_NZ
dc.type text en_NZ
vuwschema.contributor.unit Victoria Business School (Faculty of Commerce) en_NZ
vuwschema.contributor.unit School of Accounting and Commercial Law en_NZ
vuwschema.type.vuw Awarded Doctoral Thesis en_NZ Accounting en_NZ Victoria University of Wellington en_NZ Doctoral en_NZ Doctor of Commerce en_NZ
dc.rights.license Creative Commons GNU GPL en_NZ
dc.rights.license Allow modifications, as long as others share alike en_NZ 2017-11-14T09:47:34Z
vuwschema.subject.anzsrcfor 150199 Accounting, Auditing and Accountability not elsewhere classified en_NZ
vuwschema.subject.anzsrcseo 970115 Expanding Knowledge in Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services en_NZ
vuwschema.subject.anzsrctoa 3 APPLIED RESEARCH en_NZ

Files in this item

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show simple item record Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as

Search ResearchArchive

Advanced Search


My Account