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Incorporating Context into Social and Environmental Accounting (SEA) in Developing Nations

Special issue call for papers from Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

Guest Editors:

Why publish a special issue on this topic?

The past decade has seen surging interests and publications in the area of Social and Environmental Accounting (SEA) in developing nations. This is a timely response to several recent calls for more SEA research into the motivations and challenges specifically faced by the developing world (Belal, Cooper and Roberts, 2013; Islam and Deegan, 2008; Tilt, 2016). However, despite the rapid increase, the large proportion of SEA research in developing countries is dominated by quantitative analysis (descriptive in nature), using large samples of empirical data to replicate research and theories in the Western literature, such as to test the effect of various firm characteristics (size, financial performance, industry etc.) on SEA levels (Liu and Anbumozhi, 2009; Liu et al. 2010; Weber 2014). They often simply apply theories or hypotheses already developed and accepted in the West to a developing country, such as legitimacy theory and stakeholder theory, but ignoring the rich contextual information in that country.

Developing countries often have an entirely different social-political environment such as different political systems, social-economic structures, religious influences, cultural values and historical conflicts and problems. Their economic development is often at different stages with different priorities, for example, relying more on export-oriented development strategy, having an under-developed capital market and corporate governance systems, and relatively weak regulatory mechanisms, etc. All of these could play a significant role in influencing SEA development in these countries because it is almost impossible to isolate any social phenomena such as SEA development from its real social-political and economic contexts. So far, research incorporating the issues and challenges in the social-political environment into the SEA investigation is patchy and limited. There are only a handful of publications, in highly ranked accounting journals, covering countries such as Bangladesh by Belal and Cooper (2011), Momin and Parker (2013) and Belal et al. (2015), China by Yang et al. (2015), Malaysia by Haniffa and Cooke (2005), Thailand by Kuasirikun (2005), Tanzania by Lauwo et al (2016), South Africa by de Villiers and Staden (2005), and Sri Lanka by Thoradeniya et al. (2015). Given the growing importance of this issue and the lack of high-quality publications in this area, we are proposing to call for a special issue on the topic of incorporating context into SEA research in developing countries.

Purpose and scope of the special issue

This AAAJ special issue aims to highlight the contextual challenges of SEA research in developing countries and provide new insights not only to question the existing practice and understanding of SEA development. It also aims to enhance knowledge of the issues in the social-political and economic contexts of developing economies and offer solutions to inform SEA policy and practice changes in these different playing fields.
Papers addressing specific contextual issues and challenges in developing countries are invited to contribute to this special issue.

Studies that are of most interest, but not limited to, include the following:

  • Contest the political foundations of SEA development
  • Explore new innovative theoretical and methodological perspectives on the SEA for developing countries
  • Provide new evidence (case studies and/ or empirical samples) of changes in the legal system, political regime, and cultural and religious belief, and their influences on the SEA
  • Design new enlightened and socially and economically balanced forms of SEA frameworks
  • Illuminate new progressive development solutions for understanding contextual factors that impact on the SEA in developing countries
  • Build new understanding of different roles of stakeholders – international and domestic  - and their influences on local SEA development
  • Operationalise and/ or translate global frameworks like UN Sustainable Development Goals at the micro level of developing country organisations
  • Explore corporate responses to social and environmental accountability pressures such as human rights accountability from the developing country context.



  • The closing date for paper submission is 31st July 2019 and the expected publication in 2020
  • Contributing authors are encouraged to workshop their papers at seminars and conferences such as the annual Australasian Centre for Social and Environmental Accounting Research (A-CSEAR) Conference, the European Accounting Association (EAA) Annual Congress, the Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Accounting (IPA) Conference, the Asia-Pacific Interdisciplinary Research in Accounting (APIRA) Conference, the annual Environmental and Sustainability Management Accounting Network (EMAN) global and regional conferencesand/or other equivalent conferences, before submission
  • Early submission is also encouraged
  • Guest editors welcome any inquiry and expression of interest from prospective authors. The main contact for submission queries is [email protected]


Belal, A. R., Cooper, S. M. and Roberts, R. W. (2013), "Vulnerable and exploitable: The need for organisational accountability and transparency in emerging and less developed economies", Accounting Forum, Vol. 37, pp. 81-91.
Belal, A. and Cooper, S.M. (2011) The absence of corporate social responsibility reporting in Bangladesh, Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Vol. 22, pp. 654– 667.
Belal, A., Cooper, S.M. and Khan, N. A. (2015) Corporate environmental responsibility and accountability: What chance in vulnerable Bangladesh? Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Vol. 33, pp. 44–58.
de Villiers, C. and Staden, C. (2006) Can less environmental disclosure have a legitimising effect? Evidence from Africa, Accounting, Organizations and Society, Vol. 31, pp. 763–781.
Haniffa, R. M. and Cooke, T. E. (2005) The impact of culture and governance on corporate social reporting, Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, Vol. 24, pp. 391–430.
Islam, M. A. and Deegan, C. (2008) Motivations for an organization within a developing country to report social responsibility information: Evidence from Bangladesh, Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 21, No. 6, pp.850-874.
Kuasirikun, N. (2005) Attitudes to the development and implementation of social and environmental accounting in Thailand, Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Vol. 16, pp. 1035–1057.
Lauwo, S. G., Otusanya, O. J. and Bakre, O. (2016) Corporate social responsibility reporting in the mining sector of Tanzania", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 29, No. 6 pp. 1038 – 1074.
Liu X, Anbumozhi V. (2009) Determinant factors of corporate environmental information disclosure: an empirical study of Chinese listed companies. Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol. 17, No.6, pp.593–600.
Liu, X, Liu, B, Shishime, T, Yu, Q, Bi, J, & Fujitsuka, T. (2010) An empirical study on the driving mechanism of proactive corporate environmental management in China. Journal of Environmental Management, Vol. 91, No.8, pp.1707–1717.
Momin, M. A. and Parker, L. (2013) Motivations for corporate social responsibility reporting by MNC subsidiaries in an emerging country: The case of Bangladesh, The British Accounting Review, Vol. 45, pp. 215–228.
Tilt, C. (2016) Corporate social responsibility research: the importance of context, International Journal of Corporate Social Responsibility, Vol. 1, No.2, DOI 10.1186/s40991-016-0003-7
Thoradeniya, P., Lee, J., Tan, R. and Ferreira, A. (2015) Sustainability reporting and the theory of planned behaviour, Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 28 No. 7, pp. 1099-1137.
Weber, O. (2014) Environmental, Social and Governance Reporting in China, Business Strategy and the Environment, Vol. 23, pp. 303–317.
Yang, H., Craig, R. and Farley, A. (2015). A review of Chinese and English language studies on corporate environmental reporting in China, Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Vol. 28, pp. 30–48.