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Information vs knowledge: Corporate accountability in environmental, social, and governance issues
Örebro University, Örebro University School of Business. Norwegian School of Economics, NHH, Bergen, Norway.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6404-2790
2018 (English)In: Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, ISSN 0951-3574, Vol. 31, no 2, p. 586-607Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to offer a new and more elaborate view of the relationship between information and knowledge in accountability settings.

Design/methodology/approach: The study investigates how knowledge is accomplished when accountability is demanded. The knowing-in-practice perspective (Lave, 1988; Orlikowski, 2002; Pentland, 1992) is introduced to theorise knowledge as the ability to purposefully go on with practice and information as a resource that may contribute to this knowledge. Empirically, the study investigates Nordic investors' engagement with companies addressing environmental, social, and governance issues.

Findings: The findings illustrate how information may contribute to knowledge in an accountability setting. Whether or not the information contributes to knowledge in the accountability setting depends on the information's origin, convergence with other accounts, and use in contradicting and disproving executives' information are all important aspects. To understand whether information allows the investor to hold the company accountable, the author need to consider these aspects. The analysis also shows how knowledge in accountability settings may be achieved without information - for example, by enacting theories.

Research limitations/implications: The study suggests that research should more carefully distinguish between knowledge and information. According to the perspective used here, knowledge is the ability to purposefully go on with practice. Information is one of many resources that can contribute to knowledge.

Practical implications: This study provides insight into the relationship between accounting systems and the practice of demanding accountability. Such understanding is valuable when designing accounts-based governance and civil regulation, such as for addressing sustainability issues, as in this study.

Originality/value: The study challenges the view of knowledge as a representation or factual commodity, and provides a new and more elaborate view of the relationship between information and knowledge in accountability settings by introducing the knowing-in-practice perspective to the accounting literature.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2018. Vol. 31, no 2, p. 586-607
Keywords [en]
Sustainability, Knowledge, Accountability, Engagement, Information, ESG
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-65519DOI: 10.1108/AAAJ-01-2013-1198ISI: 000425597200009Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85042389300OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-65519DiVA, id: diva2:1187942
Funder
The Jan Wallander and Tom Hedelius Foundation
Note

Funding Agency:

Infina foundation

Available from: 2018-03-06 Created: 2018-03-06 Last updated: 2018-03-06Bibliographically approved

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Du Rietz, Sabina

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Citation style
  • apa
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