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The new social audits: accountability, managerial capture or the agenda of social champions?


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  • David Owen
  • Tracey Swift
  • Christopher Humphrey
  • Mary Bowerman
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    Drawing upon a series of interviews conducted with leading practitioners and opinion formulators in the social, ethical and environmental audit arena, together with an extensive review of recent literature in the area, this paper offers a critical appraisal of current developments in the newly revitalized social audit movement. We particularly question whether in their enthusiasm for bringing social audit into the mainstream of current business thinking its advocates risk compromising the democratic ideals of the founding fathers of the movement. A particular concern raised is that without real change in corporate governance structures, social audit could become monopolized by consultants and/or corporate management and hence amount to little more than a skilfully controlled public relations exercise.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal European Accounting Review.

    Volume (Year): 9 (2000)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 81-98

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    Handle: RePEc:taf:euract:v:9:y:2000:i:1:p:81-98

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    1. Marques, Edmond, 1976. "Human resource accounting: Some questions and reflections," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 1(2-3), pages 175-178, June.
    2. Cherns, Albert B., 1978. "Alienation and accountancy," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 105-114, June.
    3. Harte, G. F. & Owen, D. L., 1987. "Fighting de-industrialisation: The role of local government social audits," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 123-141, March.
    4. Medawar, Charles, 1976. "The social audit: A political view," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 1(4), pages 389-394, October.
    5. Power, Michael, 1996. "Making things auditable," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 21(2-3), pages 289-315.
    6. Power, Michael, 1997. "Expertise and the construction of relevance: Accountants and environmental audit," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 123-146, February.
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    Cited by:
    1. Françoise Quairel, 2004. "Responsable mais pas comptable," Post-Print halshs-00145129, HAL.
    2. Eenkhoorn, P. & Graafland, J.J., 2010. "Lying in Business: Insights from Hannah Arendt’s ‘Lying in Politics’," Discussion Paper 2010-75, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.


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