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Accounting in the Anthropocene: a roadmap for stewardship

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

E-pub ahead of print
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/10/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>Accounting and Business Research
Issue number5
Volume52
Number of pages15
Pages (from-to)582-596
Publication StatusE-pub ahead of print
Early online date4/08/22
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Stewardship is a concept that has historically underpinned the practice of accounting, with a focus on the stewardship of financial resources. As times change, so too do the elements of organisational performance that might be subject to stewardship demands. Critically for this paper, a roadmap for organisational stewardship in the Anthropocene is developed. In brief, the Anthropocene is a term used to describe how human actions drive earth systems functioning, generating effects (for example) on the climate system as well as on the diversity of living creatures. Given these effects, an enlarged understanding of stewardship emerges that focuses on corporate purpose that takes account of wider than financial ambitions and effects as well as on governance processes that can support a broader perspective. The paper also highlights that achieving stewardship for ‘wicked problems’ that emerge from complex adaptive systems (with emergent elements and tipping points) might be best addressed by coalitions of organisations collaborating to achieve systems effects. Such an approach also suggests that accounting data gathering and tracing of organisational impact will require greater spatial capabilities than have previously been the case. Accounting for stewardship in the Anthropocene, therefore, represents a significant advance to current accounting practice.