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Assessing the emancipatory nature of Chinese extinction accounting

Zhao, Longxiang and Atkins, Jill ORCID: 2021. Assessing the emancipatory nature of Chinese extinction accounting. Social and Environmental Accountability Journal 41 (1-2) , pp. 8-36. 10.1080/0969160X.2021.1889386

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The majority of research into corporate reporting on biodiversity and conservation generally concludes that such reporting is dominated by impression management, corporate self-interest and an anthropocentric mindset. This has led many researchers to dismiss corporate reporting, focusing increasingly on the activities of NGOs, the public sector and government level reporting. However, recent work has explored the potential for a corporate reporting (and reporting by other entities) to encapsulate emancipatory elements, where such elements demonstrate at least an intention to be transformative and emancipatory in the sense of improving conservation, enhancing biodiversity protection and, critically, preventing species extinctions. Extinction accounting that provides details on how a company is protecting/restoring habitat, enhancing biodiversity, and taking a dynamic approach to conservation could, potentially, lead to ecological and environmental improvements. Chinese listed companies have not, to date, received attention from researchers in relation to extinction accounting. This paper seeks to analyse an extensive sample of Chinese listed companies in a high ecological impact sector to assess the extent to which their biodiversity disclosures are dominated by impression management, in order to identify any elements of the reporting that could be interpreted as emancipatory extinction accounting. We respond to a call from the literature to research extinction accounting by companies in developing economies, given the paucity of the research in this area. Our findings suggest that despite a strong tendency for companies to reveal impression management and self-interest in their disclosures, there are examples of emancipatory extinction accounting, where they appear to be eliciting genuine transformation in their conservation behaviours and activities. Further, we identify species-specific, species-centric reporting as a significant element of extinction accounting, demonstrating the way in which emancipatory extinction accounting is growing and evolving in practice. This represents a significant contribution to the existing literature as previous research in the mining industry found only anthropocentric’ legitimacy-dominated extinction accounting. It is encouraging that elements of an emancipatory extinction accounting are beginning to emerge in reporting practice in a high impact sector in a developing economy.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 0969-160X
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 29 November 2022
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 15:14

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