Accountants’ role in non-financial reporting: patterns of reproduction and change

Oana Apostol is Researcher at the Faculty of Management and Business, Tampere University, where she is a member of the Research Group on Sustainability and Critical Accounting, and Responsible Management Research Group. She has previously worked at the Turku School of Economics. Her research work has been published in journals such as Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal; Critical Perspectives on Accounting and Journal of Business Ethics. Her research interests include sustainability accounting and reporting, critical accounting, social movements, and accountability.

Paper title and abstract

Accountants’ role in non-financial reporting: patterns of reproduction and change

Broadening up the professional space of accountants to more inclusively engage with sustainability tasks, such as non-financial reporting (NFR), is an important part of organizational transformation required for meeting grand challenges of our times.

Prior studies explored how the role of accountants is shaped by a combination of institutional factors and professional dispositions of accountants. The focus in this literature is on well-established institutions characteristic to Western settings, but these can prove problematic or at least insufficient to explain the role of accountants in NFR in less familiar societal contexts. We employ a Bourdieusian analysis to shed light on how accountants’ role in NFR emerges in the interplay between Western-based institutions and context-specific institutions.

Empirically, we draw on a large set of interviews with a variety of societal actors being active in the NFR field in Romania. We identify three patterns of accountants in terms of their interest with respect to NFR and explain them by devoting attention to the intermingling tendencies of global forces and local specificities.