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Sustainability accounting, accountability and reporting in the public sector

Special issue call for papers from Meditari Accountancy Research

Submission deadline: June 30, 2018

Guest Editors:

Sumit Lodhia, University of South Australia, Australia
Amanpreet Kaur, University of South Australia, Australia

What is the special issue about?

This special issue of Meditari Accountancy Research seeks to foster research in the area of sustainability accounting, accountability and reporting in the public sector. The public sector is regarded as a steward for social and environmental issues. Unlike corporations, it has a social and fiduciary responsibility to conserve natural resources and promote social welfare and equity. It has far greater responsibilities for advancing the notion of sustainable development when compared to corporations (Ball et al. 2014). As a significant employer, provider of services and consumer of resources, public sector organizations (PSOs) have a significant impact on national and global progress towards sustainable development and are expected to lead by example in managing and reporting sustainability issues (GRI 2004, 2005; GRI FPA 2012). Due to the critical impact PSOs have on the environment and society, it becomes increasingly vital to explore their sustainability accounting, accountability and reporting practices as well as undertake research that engages with practitioners and policymakers in the public sector (Ball & Grubnic 2007; Ball et al. 2014).
Existing literature indicates that the public sector has embraced sustainability accounting and reporting practices. The key research foci to date have addressed sustainability reporting practices (Gibson & Guthrie 1995; Leeson et al. 2005; Guthrie & Farneti 2008; Williams et al. 2011; Goswami & Lodhia 2014; Williams 2015), drivers of sustainability reporting (Marcuccio & Steccolini 2005; Farneti & Guthrie 2009; Mussari & Monfardini 2010; Lodhia et al. 2012; Lodhia & Jacobs 2013), sustainability accounting (Ball 2004, 2005, 2007), environmental management accounting (Qian et al. 2011)  and stakeholder engagement (Kaur & Lodhia 2014; Greco et al. 2015). This special issue invites papers to extend the on-going research initiatives focused on the public sector and explore the role of PSOs in advancing the sustainability accounting, accountability and reporting agenda. Key research themes, with an emphasis on the various tiers of the public sector, include, but are not limited to:

  • Sustainability accounting and reporting
  • Integrated reporting
  • Environmental management systems, management accounting and management control
  • Accounting for climate change
  • Stakeholder engagement in sustainability accounting and reporting
  • Sustainable Development Goals and their impact on the public sector
  • Accountability of public sector organizations
  • Sustainability reporting and organizational change
  • The use of social media and information and communication technologies in sustainability communication
  • The role of accountants in sustainability accounting and reporting/integrated reporting
  • Sustainability reporting assurance

Submission instructions:

  • The closing date for submissions for this special issue is 30th June 2018. Manuscripts should be submitted via Scholar One Manuscripts
  • Please choose the special issue from the list in step 4 of the online submission process when submitting your manuscript
  • All papers will be reviewed in accordance with Meditari Accountancy Research’s normal procedures
  • All papers must follow the Author guidelines
  • Any queries in advance of submission can be sent for the attention of the Guest Editors to: Sumit Lodhia

Key dates: 

  • June 30 2018: Submission deadline
  • 31 August 2018: First reviews before this date
  • September – October 2018: Revisions and further review rounds
  • November 2018: Final revisions due
  • January 2019: Publication of Special Issue


Ball, A. (2004), "A sustainability accounting project for the UK local government sector?: Testing the social theory mapping process and locating a frame of reference", Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Vol. 15, No. 8, pp. 1009-1035.
Ball, A. (2005), "Environmental accounting and change in UK local government", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 18, No. 3, pp. 346-373.
Ball, A. (2007), "Environmental accounting as workplace activism", Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Vol. 18, No. 7, pp. 759-778.
Ball, A. & Grubnic, S. 2007, "Sustainability acounting and accountability in the public sector", in Unerman, J., Bebbington, J. & O'Dwyer, B. (eds), Sustainability Accounting and Accountability, Routledge, London, pp. 243-265.
Ball, A., Grubnic, S. & Birchall, J. 2014, "Sustainability accounting and accountability in the public sector", in Beggington, J., Unerman, J. & O’Dwyer, B. (eds), Sustainability Accounting and Accountability, Routledge, London, pp. 176-196.
Farneti, F. & Guthrie, J. (2009), "Sustainability reporting by Australian public sector organisations: Why they report", Accounting Forum, Vol. 33, pp. 89-98.
Gibson, R. & Guthrie, J. (1995), "Recent environmental disclosures in annual reports of Australian public and private sector organisations", Accounting Forum, Vol. 19, No. 2/3, pp. 111-127.
Goswami, K. & Lodhia, S. (2014), "Sustainability disclosure patterns of South Australian local councils: a case study", Public Money & Management, Vol. 34, No. 4, pp. 273-280.
Greco, G., Sciulli, N. & D’Onza, G. (2015), "The influence of stakeholder engagement on sustainability reporting: evidence from Italian local councils", Public Management Review, Vol. 17, No. 4, pp. 465-488.
GRI (2004), Public agency sustainability reporting: A GRI resource document in support of the publlic agency sector supplement Global Reporting Initiative, Amsterdam.
GRI (2005), Sector supplement for public agencies, Global Reporting Initiative, Amsterdam.
GRI FPA (2012), Integrating sustainability into reporting - An Australian public sector perspective, GRI Focal Point Australia (FPA), Sydney.
Guthrie, J. & Farneti, F. (2008), "GRI sustainability reporting by Australian public sector organisations", Public Money & Management, Vol. 28, No. 6, pp. 361-366.
Kaur, A. & Lodhia, S. (2014), "The state of disclosures on stakeholder engagement in sustainability reporting in Australian local councils", Pacific Accounting Review, Vol. 26, No. 1/2, pp. 54-74.
Leeson, R., Ivers, J. & Dickinson, D. (2005), "Sustainability reporting by the public sector: Momentum changes in the practice, uptake and form of reporting by public agencies", Accountability Forum, Vol. 8, No. 12-21.
Lodhia, S., Jacobs, K. & Park, Y.J. (2012), "Driving public sector environmental reporting: the disclosure practices of Australian Commonwealth departments", Public Management Review, Vol. 14, No. 5, pp. 631-647.
Lodhia, S. & Jacobs, K. (2013), "The practice turn in environmental reporting: A study into current practices in two Australian commonwealth department", Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, Vol. 26, No. 4, pp. 595-615.
Marcuccio, M. & Steccolini, I. (2005), "Social and environmental reporting in local authorities: a new Italian fashion?", Public Management Review, Vol. 7, No. 2, pp. 155-176.
Mussari, R. & Monfardini, P. (2010), "Practices of social reporting in public sector and non-profit organizations: An Italian perspective", Public Management Review, Vol. 12, No. 4, pp. 487-492.
Qian, W., Burritt, R. & Monroe, G. (2011), "Environmental management accounting in local government: A case of waste management", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 24, No. 1, pp. 93-128.
Williams, B., Wilmshurst, T. & Clift, R. (2011), "Sustainability reporting by local government in Australia: current and future prospects", Accounting Forum, Vol. 35, No. 3, pp. 176-186.
Williams, B. (2015), "Reporting on sustainability by Australian councils – a communication perspective", Asian Review of Accounting, Vol. 23, No. 2, pp. 186-203.