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Analysing the role of sustainable development indicators in accounting for and constructing a sustainable Scotland

Russell, S.L. and Thomson, I. (2009) Analysing the role of sustainable development indicators in accounting for and constructing a sustainable Scotland. Accounting Forum, 33 (3). pp. 225-244. ISSN 0155-9982

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Abstract

The main objective of this paper was to analyse how sustainable development indicators impacted upon the integration of sustainable development into the governing of Scotland.Amajor concernwas whether an accounting technology could represent this complex multi-dimensional and interdisciplinary concept.We analysed the relationship between the official sustainable development strategy of the Scottish Executive and the associated indicator set using an analytics of government framework (Dean, M. (1999). Governmentality: Power and rule in modern society. London: Sage Publications. Dean, M. (2007). Governing societies. Berkshire:Open University Press).We observed a lack of alignment between these sustainable development indicators and the visions, fields of visibilities, forms of knowledge and techniques of government contained in this strategy. Critical aspects of this strategy were omitted from the indicator set and we argue that these indicators did not to effectively measure progress towards a Sustainable Scotland but that they could calculatively capture and distort the sustainable development governing process. The analytical framework used allowed us to problematise these indicators and contribute to a wider discourse on the composition and nature of sustainable development indicators.