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Emerging Trends in Social Accounting

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Emerging Trends in Social Accounting

  1. 1. Emerging Trends in Social Accounting Fran Healey PhD Student, Alliance Manchester Business School Greater Manchester Social Value Network Conference 2nd June 2016 Research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council Supervised by Professor Kenneth McPhail and Professor Sven Modell
  2. 2. Introduction • Introduce myself – Management Accountant – 15 years in strategic & financial planning in blue chips (UU Plc, TUI Travel) – Last 4 years in not for profit sector – consultancy (accounting, project management, all sorts!) – Trustee of Survivors Manchester – first SROI – Continuing to work part time in not for profit sector whilst study for PhD part time at AMBS • Show of hands – Social impact practitioner? – Local Authority? – Voluntary sector group? – Housing Association? – Other?
  3. 3. My Research Interests 1) How not for profit sector accounts for itself 3) Methods of defining and measuring social value 2) Impact of growth in public sector outsourcing 4) Is standardised social value accounting a good or bad thing 5) Who holds the responsibility for not for profit sector performance
  4. 4. Brief Background • Political Environment – Labour Government 2008 – SROI project • Cabinet Office Guide to SROI 2009 – Coalition Government 2010 – change of focus – Big Society Launch 2010 – community / localism – Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 – procurement – Charities Act Review 2012 – charitable objectives – G8 Social Impact Investment Taskforce (Measuring Impact Working Group) 2014 – need to measure social investment • Academic Research – Reviews of technical limitations of specific tools (eg 3BL, SROI, LM3) – Use of tools in stakeholder prioritisation (eg SROI) – Gap – Research into non-financial accounting standardisation
  5. 5. Accounting Absence • Catasús 2008 (based on Choudhury 1988) – Titled “In Search of Accounting Absence” – As much to learn from absence as presence – Absence normally related to failure • “from nothing nothing is produced” • “what gets measured gets managed” – Negative absence – antithesis of presence – Positive absence – as a phenomena in its own right • Not the standard research perspective – Research challenge – need to know what to expect to know what is not there – Publishing bias towards positive results?
  6. 6. Virtues of Absence • Choudhury’s (1988) Virtues – Trust • Can be counterproductive to introduce accounting control systems • Trust can be stronger than then systems it replaces – Constructive Ambivalence • Rigidity of systems • Constrain ‘blank canvas’ innovation – Symbolic • Accounting symbolises rationality / legitimacy • Conformance or non-conformance could be symbolic
  7. 7. Accountability vs Responsibility • Accountability: – The state of being accountable – Being subject to the obligation to report, explain, or justify something (to give an account) • Responsibility: – The state of being responsible – Having the power to control, manage, or discharge obligations • Differences? – Measurement, Timing (before or after the event)
  8. 8. Break-out Groups Question 1: Does accountability for social value diminish responsibility? Question 2: Is the absence of a standardised social value accounting approach a good thing or a bad thing?
  9. 9. Wrap Up
  10. 10. Wrap Up

Editor's Notes

  • Welcome
    I’m Fran – researcher at AMBS
    Can I record and use elements of discussion for own research?
    Session overview:
    - Approx. 10 minutes me talking (no Qs)
    My background and yours
    My research project at AMBS
    Meaning of accounting absence and whether a good or bad thing
    Introduce concepts of accountability / responsibility
    Pose two questions to discuss in groups 20 minutes
    Brief feedback from each group
  • Things I am interested in
    1- difference in levels of transparency, traditional accounting doesn’t work
    2- growing importance, some high profile failures
    3- various different tools, little consistency?
    4- can we standardise, should we standardise?
    5- who can make a change – government, regulators, funders, commercial sector?
  • What’s already been done:
    Some political background
    Labour government interest to justify policy – impact measurement – chose SROI – Guide to SROI
    Dropped by coalition government
    More outsourcing – big society
    Social Value Act – requiring public sector orgs to consider social impact in procurement, but how?
    Charities Act Review – charities must account for their impact
    G8 – need for measurability to stimulate social investment
    Academic work
    Very little
    Mainly focussed on comparing tools and their technical capabilities
    Some use of tools to analyse stakeholder engagement
    No work done on why there is still a lack of accounting standardisation for non financial performance
  • Some suggestions made for research into absence
    Not been a popular approach despite clear opportunities
    Possibly because difficult?
    Possibly because not as publishable?
  • Is absence a good thing?
  • Tied into the possible virtues of absence:
    Difference between accountability and responsibility
    Are they compatible in field of social value accounting?
  • Break out into 3? groups to consider these questions
    Makes notes on flipchart, will ask for some feedback at the end for 2 minutes each group
    Allocate groups & give finish time
    Group feedback
  • Consent Forms?
    Future Discussions?
    Thanks for input?
    Feedback welcome
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