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Planetary Boundaries and Corporate Reporting: The Role of the Conceptual Basis of the Corporation

Veldman, J. ORCID: 0000-0001-8615-5844 & Jansson, A. (2020). Planetary Boundaries and Corporate Reporting: The Role of the Conceptual Basis of the Corporation. Accounting, Economics and Law: A Convivium, doi: 10.1515/ael-2018-0037


There is a broad call to integrate planetary boundaries and life-cycle based reporting into accounting theory and reporting standards. Although many practitioners back this call, including insurers, shareholders with a long-term orientation, and company law specialists who suggest that the inclusion of long-term stakeholder interests is necessary to counter both corporate and systemic risks, it remains unanswered. We argue that dominant assumptions about the status and architecture of corporations in corporate governance theory stand at the centre of this unanswered call in accounting theory and practice. As the status of the public corporation is interpreted as a nexus of contracts and its architecture as a restricted dyadic relation between 'principals' and 'agents', the object and audience for corporate reports are restricted to a very specific set of actors, interests and time-horizons. We argue that this conceptual setup unduly restricts notions of accountability and is connected to a specific notion of political economy. A broadening of reporting standards needs, therefore, to be accompanied by a critical assessment of the assumed object and audience of reporting in corporate governance theory.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: financial reporting, ESG, integrated reporting, sustainability reporting, non-financial reporting, accounting theory, corporate governance, agency theory
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5601 Accounting
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
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