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An industry in crisis: risk, reflexivity, sub-politics and accountability processes in salmon farming

Georgakopoulos, G. and Thomson, I. (2006) An industry in crisis: risk, reflexivity, sub-politics and accountability processes in salmon farming. In: 8th Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Accounting Conference, 2006-07-10 - 2006-07-12.

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Abstract

This paper draws upon an arena study on the accounting and accountability processes used within a business sector, under intense public and regulatory scrutiny in terms of its social, economic and ecological risks. Georgakopoulos and Thomson (2004, 2005) report on an absence of environmental accounting within the salmon farming organizations for management planning and control processes. This paper extends this analysis by attempting to theorise the social and environmental accounting observed by these organizations discharging these accountability duties using insights from the risk society literature. The interviews and documentary analysis revealed the existence of an active accountability network. However, Social and Environmental Accounting techniques did not feature in the engagement processes. We observed the existence of fragmented accountability networks, and evidence of a struggle for domination of a techno-scientific accountability process. Within these discourses, business and cost issues were evident, but they were not formally quantified or systematically integrated. We find that the accountability processes observed in our arena study, were consistent with Beck's (and others) analysis of reflexive modernity and the Risk Society Thesis This paper by evaluating accounting and accountability processes within a specific context, demonstrates the importance of locating social and environmental accounting processes within wider accountability discourses. These societal accountability discourses extend beyond social and environmental as well as conventional accounting practices. It is suggested that all accounting practices should become more reflexive in nature if they are to remain relevant in these wider societal accountability discourses.