Sustainability research report
Sustainability offers a huge opportunity and a risk, for accountants, according to new research out of Waikato Management School launched at the Auckland NZICA conference centre in October 2011. Stewart Lawrence, Professor of Accounting at Waikato Management School who conducted research involving more than 730 New Zealand businesses, believes a mind shift in accounting may be needed,
“There is a worldwide move towards integrated reporting, bringing together social, environmental and financial data. This kind of reporting requires accountants to be involved in the development and monitoring of their organisation’s sustainable strategies so that the reports truly reflect what’s happening, rather than being ‘add-ons’ to financial reports” says Professor Lawrence.
“Many firms still cast management accountants in their traditional role of financial specialist, rather than as collaborators in driving towards sustainability as a goal,” he says. “Our research found some businesses which thought this narrow focus was an impediment to the strategic direction they wished to follow,” says Professor Lawrence.
The research paper’s key findings include:
- There is a sustainability divide between those New Zealand businesses embedding sustainability into their corporate strategy and those that are not. This divide has been exacerbated by the economic downturn; and
- Businesses identified a clear demand for accountants to keep pace with developments and support business in measuring and communicating sustainability issues.
Sustainability and the role of the management accountant (PDF, 449KB) by Associate Professor Eva Collins, Professor Stewart Lawrence, Professor Juliet Roper, Associate Professor Jarrod Haar, University of Waikato Management School. CIMA Research Executive Summary Series, Vol 7, Issue 14.
Funded by the London-based Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) and launched by NZICA, the research draws on the findings of three national surveys of New Zealand businesses’ uptake of sustainability practices since 2003, supplemented by a series of follow-up interviews with a group of survey respondents and banking organisations.
The research paper was launched in New Zealand at an Auckland event on 17 October 2011. The below video captures highlights from that event, including comment from some of the paper's contributors.