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Corporate reporting implication in migrating from defined benefit to defined contribution pension schemes: A focus on the UK

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  • Josiah, J.
  • Gough, O.
  • Haslam, J.
  • Shah, N.

Abstract

Pensions are intricately linked to employees’ well-being in the latter part of their life and during their working life in that they provide a sense of financial security in retirement. Since the 1980s, pension schemes have changed both in concept and detail with significant consequences for beneficiaries. This paper explores one of the major changes: the migration from defined benefit (DB) to defined contribution (DC) pension schemes focusing on this change's interface with accounting. In exploring this shift from DB to DC schemes, the paper uses a critical perspective to reflect on this interface including how the change is accounted for in corporate reporting narrative. The key focus is on issues of political economy: it is found in this respect that while wealth is effectively distributed from pension holders efforts are made to legitimise or displace attention from pension changes. An analysis of narratives of corporate annual reports is undertaken to critically explore corporate communication to stakeholders vis-à-vis pension scheme changes. Findings suggest limited and problematic engagement with employees as per the corporate annual report narrative. We also point to a lack of appetite on the part of existing employees to engage employers on these changes. The change is framed to give workers an impression that they are taking responsibility for their future whilst an alternative view is that in actuality the organisation is decoupling from pension responsibility and devolving associated risks to employees for greater profitability. Counter accounting may be a way forward.

Suggested Citation

  • Josiah, J. & Gough, O. & Haslam, J. & Shah, N., 2014. "Corporate reporting implication in migrating from defined benefit to defined contribution pension schemes: A focus on the UK," Accounting forum, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 18-37.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:accfor:v:38:y:2014:i:1:p:18-37
    DOI: 10.1016/j.accfor.2013.10.003
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