Stakeholder accounting : the case of the electricity industry in England and Wales
This thesis proposes to explore the potential for stakeholder based accounting as a means to explain the social performance of organisations. It argues that organisations have a contract with society and as a consequence they must be accountable to that society for their actions. Further, it is suggested that as part of this accountability there is a broader need in the public interest for social accounting. Due to the pluralistic nature of modern societies it is argued that a stakeholder framework is one way in which this accountability can be achieved. In order to consider the nature of such social accounting a case study of the electricity industry in England and Wales is undertaken. This industry is very important to modern society, has significant environment implications and has a recent history of remarkable change. These factors make it an interesting and unique case within which to consider accountability. From the performance measurement and accounting literature and a series of interviews with both stakeholders and privatised companies a model of stakeholder performance is developed. This is then used to analyse the electricity industry in England and Wales since privatisation. The objective is to demonstrate how certain stakeholders have fared, whether they have won or lost. Further, institutional and resource dependency theories are used to consider what factors determine the relative success or failure of the different stakeholder groups. Finally the possible implications of recent developments in Social Accounting Standards, such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), AccountAbility 1000 (AA1000) and Social Accountability 8000 (SA8000), and the potential for Internet reporting are considered.