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ACT505 Accounting Theory

Question

Answered

Question:

Part 1

A case study on accountability and informal accounts

Theoretical knowledge

Accountability has been defined in terms of the relationship between two social actors, accountor and accountee, where accountor is obliged to give an account to accountee to justify her action, otherwise suffers sanction by ‘B’. Sanction action includes punishment and reward). This accountability model is shown as the following picture.

Note 1: Accountor is required to gives an account to accountee. Accountee is able to sanction (punish or reward) Accountee, in the case of not receiving an account from accountor.    

Note 2: some scholars consider accountability is in nature of an agency relationship, where accountor is agent, and accountee is principal.

This accountability model applies to both financial and sustainability accounting setting, as shown in the following table.

 

Financial accounting context

Sustainability accounting context

Accountor

The business organization

The organization

Accountee

Shareholders

Stakeholders

Account

Financial reports

Different accounts given to different stakeholders

Accountee’s sanction power

Shareholders’ investment resource and voting rights to replace the management

Different stakeholders have different resources and ways to sanction the organization.


Stakeholders are those impact the organization or are impacted by the organization. Stakeholders include shareholders, the government, business partners, customers, local communities, employees, media, Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as environmental activists, and so on.

Different stakeholders have different resources and exert their powers in different ways to sanction or influence the organization. For example, the government has legal power to fine the organization or even terminate its operation. The customers have purchase powers against the organization (they may refuse to buy its product). The local communities, NGOs and media have public opinion power to damage the public reputation of the organization.

The accounts that the organization give to stakeholders are different and can be formal (official and compulsory) or informal (casual and voluntary). The accounts include: formal financial statements given to shareholders (please note stakeholders also include shareholders); formal specific-purpose reports to the government; product manuals (formal) to customers or interview with them by visits, emails or phone calls (informal); informal dialogue to the local communities.

You are required to use the above theoretical knowledge of accountability to study the following case of religious charity organization. 

The case of Sky charity organization

Sky is a charity organization led by a local church. Given its not-for-profit and charity nature, Sky owns a food business that generates considerable profits each year. Sky demonstrates two goals: fulfilling its role as a departmental entity of the church; and increasing financial profitability through manufacture and sale of health foods.

Being accountable to the Church governors

Sky produces annual financial reports of its food business, in accordance of accounting standards and legal rules; and send them to the Church governors. According to the law, the annual report is also sent to the government bodies. 

Being accountable to the church members

Sky is under governance of the Church. As with all other departments of the Church, Sky’s communication to church members is informal in nature and occurs primarily through the denomination’s print media, named the “Trace”. The content in Trace is rich in religious discourse but reveals little in terms of commercial issues.

Being accountable to the government bodies

The government concerns how Sky is using the fund for the purpose of charity. It requires Sky to provide an official report on this issue every year, stating it is the legal requirement for charity entities to make such annual reports. Furthermore, the local government received several complaint letters from a citizen on the hygiene issues of the food business operated by Sky. Sky interviewed the government officials from the public health office. In this interview, Sky explained that these issues were accidental and irrelevant to Sky.

Being accountable to the customers

Sky food business sells organic food and vegetable. Sky noticed a market issue, as customers did not recognize high quality of food that it provided. Sky set up a big board in front of each shop to indicate details of its food. In addition, Sky made phone calls and sent emails to the customers who complained its hygiene situations to justify why this problem occurred in accident.

Being accountable to the local community

Sky understands benefits from maintaining good relationship with local community. It donated a playground for local children. This playground is named as “Sky”, and the donation information was recorded in the gate of the playground.

Being accountable to the environmentalists

The accident hygiene issue brought attention of an environmentalist group. The group wanted Sky to disclose all details of this issue and make full justification of its actions. Without doing this, Sky would encounter public demonstration organized by this environmentalist group. Eventually Sky and the group attended a public dialogue and argument organized by the media. This dialogue was shown on TV.

Required:

  • Who are stakeholders in this case?
  • For each stakeholder, indicate the resource(s) or power(s) that this stakeholder hold to sanction Sky.
  • Identify the account(s) given by Sky to each stakeholder; and indicate whether it is formal or informal.

Part 2: Literature review 

Review the following two articles as shown in the unit webpage.

Article 1: Lamberton, G. (2005). Sustainability accounting – a brief history and conceptual framework, Accounting Forum, 29(1), 7-26.   

Article 2: DeZoort, T., Harrison, P. and Taylor, M. (2006). Accountability and auditor’s materiality judgements: The effects of differential pressure strength on conservatism, variability, and effort, Accounting, Organizations and Society, 31, 373-390.

You are required to answer:

  • Which article is of normative accounting theory, which one is of positive accounting theory. Why?
  • Which research is conceptual, which is empirical?
  • What is the contribution made by Lamberton (2005)(Article 1) to accounting knowledge? Make a brief explanation.

(You need to identify the old knowledge stated or implicated in this article, and then study what is the new knowledge that this article has achieved and presented).

ACT505 Accounting Theory

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