Equity tension and new public
management policy development
and implementation in the water
Christopher John Hunt and John Staunton
School of Business, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia, and
School of Business, Bond University, Gold Coast, Australia
Purpose – Within the new public management (NPM) context, this paper aims to examine the
inclusion of equity issues in pricing policy development and implementation in the water industry in
Design/methodology/approach – A review of literature relevant to the pricing of water shows
equity issues have four dimensions which tend to be, at best, only implicitly considered. An empirical
illustration employing a transaction cost framework is provided of a case in which change in pricing
mechanisms was strongly suggested.
Findings – An equity paradox emerges as an explanation of why 63.7 per cent of Queensland urban
water entities chose not to adopt the user-pays pricing mechanism for water. This suggests that the
balance between “equity” and “efficiency” continues to be required in policy development for water
pricing. Equity of access and that of distribution continue to be significant factors. As well, equity of
interest and of return must be considered, especially under a user-pays pricing mechanism.
Practical implications – In respect of NPM considerations, it is argued that consideration of the
four dimensions of equity in the implementation of a water pricing policy will resolve contradictions
with, and paradoxes met in dealing with efficiency.
Originality/value – The argument used in the paper is interdisciplinary. References and terms used
include those which are social, economic, and environmental from an accounting and management
Keywords Transaction costs, Equity, Pricing policy, Water
Paper type Conceptual paper
Weaving a web of control
“The Promise of Opportunity” and work-life
balance in multinational accounting firms
Puja Ladva and Jane Andrew
Discipline of Accounting, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationship between management controls and
the work-life balance (WLB) of junior accountants working in four multinational accounting firms
using semi-structured interviews.
Design/methodology/approach – The authors interviewed junior accountants, asking them about
their firms’ time budgeting process, their views on organisational culture and their experience of WLB.
Findings – Time budgeting controls and the dominant discourses of “efficiency” and “career” form a
web of control within these firms that sustain the long-hours culture. Drawing on the work of Foucault,
the authors argue that the web of control is particularly strong because it is not imposed externally by
a clearly identifiable source of power. Instead, the interviews revealed how junior accountants actively
produce the web of control in order to secure their identity. This is particularly apparent when they
speak of their career.
Research limitations/implications – This research sheds light on the relationship between
management controls and WLB. Management controls are effective in large multinational accounting
firms because they work through the emergent identity of young professionals.
Originality/value – The link between management control systems and WLB has received little
attention from accounting academics. This research offers important insights into the way
management control systems and organisational culture may impact the lived experience of WLB
within multinational accounting firms.
Keywords Identity, Work-life balance, Management control, Foucault, Accounting firms,
Web of control
Paper type Research paper
Biodiversity valuation and the
discount rate problem
Mark C. Freeman
School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University,
Loughborough, UK, and
Department of Geography and Environment, London School of Economics,
Purpose – The aim of this paper is to demonstrate that the application of standard environmental
accounting practices for estimating long-term discount rates is likely to lead to the rejection of
biodiversity-sensitive projects that are in the greater societal good.
Design/methodology/approach – The authors combine estimates of marginal ecosystem damages
from two forestry case studies, one local, one global, with ten different term structures of discount
rates taken from both the academic literature and policy choices to calculate present values.
Findings – Standard environmental accounting approaches for estimating the long-term discount
rate result in the under-valuation of projects that are sensitive to biodiversity conservation.
Research limitations/implications – This paper is set within a full cost accounting (FCA)
framework, and therefore has the limitations that generally follow from taking this approach to
biodiversity problems. Recommended extensions include looking at broader ranges of biodiversity
costs and benefits.
Social implications – Unless environmental accountants engage with environmental economists
over the issue of intergenerational discount rates, then it is likely that socially responsible managers
will reject projects that are in the greater societal good.
Originality/value – The paper introduces both normative discount rates and declining discount
rates to estimates of shadow environmental provisions within FCA and contrasts these with current
environmental accounting practices. It also provides two detailed case studies that demonstrate the
extent to which biodiversity-sensitive investment choices are likely to be undervalued by managers
who follow current accounting recommendations concerning the appropriate choice of discount rate.
Keywords Biodiversity accounting,Ecosystemservices, Valuation,Declining discount rates,Normative,
Positive, Accounting, Sustainable development
Paper type Research paper
Biodiversity reporting in Sweden:
corporate disclosure and
Jo¨ nko¨ ping International Business School, Jo¨ nko¨ ping, Sweden and
Gothenburg Research Institute, Go¨ teborg, Sweden, and
University of Gothenburg, Go¨ teborg, Sweden
Purpose – The purpose of this article is to provide an account of the quantity, location and intentions
behind companies’ biodiversity disclosure.
Design/methodology/approach – This study applies a mixed methods approach to the
examination of the quantity and location of biodiversity disclosure. The research focuses on a
study of corporate websites and corporate reports over a five-year period. Interviews with company
representatives were also conducted regarding company intentions behind biodiversity disclosure.
Findings – The findings of this study show that few of the companies studied have a record of
providing continuous biodiversity information. Those companies that provide the most biodiversity
information are in the lower-risk sector. The interview respondents identify social environmental
reporting frameworks as catalysts for biodiversity disclosure. A reason for this low level of
biodiversity disclosure may be the infrequency of interaction with pressure groups. However, the
respondents also state, as increasingly their companies have paid more attention to sustainability
reporting in recent years, more detailed biodiversity disclosure has resulted.
Research limitations/implications – The research in this study, which is explorative and
descriptive, is limited to a study of the quantity and location of biodiversity disclosure by 29
companies listed on the OMXS30 and the preparers’ reasons for such disclosure.
Originality/value – This is an original study that attempts to go beyond mere reporting of
biodiversity disclosure by examining the motivations for such disclosure using interviews with
Bringing tropical forest
biodiversity conservation into
financial accounting calculation
Newcastle University Business School, Newcastle University,
Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
Purpose – This paper seeks to examine how the biodiversity comprising a tropical forest ecosystem
is being protected as a result of having its conservation brought into financial accounting calculations
by constructing a greenhouse gas emissions offset product to sell on the voluntary over-the-counter
Design/methodology/approach – The research examines a single embedded case study of a
biodiversity conservation project in Kenya. The resulting discussion builds upon the existing
accounting and organisation studies literature regarding the construction of markets.
Findings – Whilst the case examined does successfully bring tropical forest biodiversity
conservation into the financial accounting calculations of the sellers and buyers of the offset
product, via processes of objectification and singularisation, there are considerable accounting
obstacles to constructing a calculative mechanism capable of achieving this on a global scale to
facilitate financing of the conservation of all the world’s remaining tropical forest biodiversity.
Originality/value – The paper contributes to the debate on accounting for biodiversity by
examining market construction as a theoretical framework for turning the loss/conservation of
biodiversity from an externality into an entity that is taken into account in organisations’ calculations
of profit and loss.
Keywords Financial accounting, Biodiversity, Conservation, Carbon, Market construction,
Sustainable development, Kenya
Paper type Research paper