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Determinants of environmental accounting practices in local entities: evidence from Portugal

  • Veronica P. Lima Ribeiro
  • Cristina Aibar-Guzman
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    Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the extent to which Portuguese local entities have implemented a set of environmental accounting practices, and to analyse some potential determining factors of their use. Design/methodology/approach – The data were collected by sending a postal questionnaire to a sample of medium-sized and large city councils and the municipal companies belonging to those municipalities. Three variables were considered as possible factors that drive the development of environmental accounting practices in the local public sector. Findings – The degree of development of environmental accounting practices in Portuguese local entities is low. Organisational size and the degree of development of environmental management practices are positively and statistically related to the level of development of environmental accounting practices. However, the findings suggest that the existence of compulsory environmental accounting standards is not positively associated with the development of environmental accounting practices by Portuguese local entities. Research limitations/implications – The study limits itself to Portugal and, therefore, its results could not be applicable in other settings. Practical implications – Portugal is experiencing a phase of development of regulatory environmental disclosure requirements. Understanding the environmental accounting and reporting practices currently developed by Portuguese local entities, as well as their drivers, may help regulators to develop more suitable standards for the sector. Originality/value – The majority of empirical studies on environmental accounting practices in public organisations are focused largely on an Anglo-Saxon context. This paper attempts to address this gap in the literature by providing a snapshot of the environmental accounting practices developed by Portuguese local entities.

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    Article provided by Emerald Group Publishing in its journal Social Responsibility Journal.

    Volume (Year): 6 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 3 (October)
    Pages: 404-419

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    Handle: RePEc:eme:srjpps:v:6:y:2010:i:3:p:404-419
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    1. James Guthrie & Federica Farneti, 2008. "GRI Sustainability Reporting by Australian Public Sector Organizations," Public Money & Management, Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, vol. 28(6), pages 361-366, December.
    2. Carlos Larrinaga-Gonzélez & Vincente Pérez-Chamorro, 2008. "Sustainability Accounting and Accountability in Public Water Companies," Public Money & Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 28(6), pages 337-343, December.
    3. Cormier, Denis & Magnan, Michel, 2003. "Environmental reporting management: a continental European perspective," Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 43-62.
    4. Carlos Larrinaga & Francisco Carrasco & Carmen Correa & Fernando Llena & Jose Moneva, 2002. "Accountability and accounting regulation: the case of the Spanish environmental disclosure standard," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(4), pages 723-740.
    5. Aerts, Walter & Cormier, Denis & Magnan, Michel, 2006. "Intra-industry imitation in corporate environmental reporting: An international perspective," Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 299-331.
    6. Hughes, Susan B. & Anderson, Allison & Golden, Sarah, 2001. "Corporate environmental disclosures: are they useful in determining environmental performance?," Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 217-240.
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