Carbon toolmaking: responding to multiple interacting logics in carbon management

Binh Bui*, Zichao (Alex) Wang, Matthäus Tekathen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: This study examines how carbon tools, including carbon accounting and management tools, can be created, used, modified and linked with other traditional management controls to materialise and effectuate organisations’ response strategies to multiple interacting logics in carbon management and the role of sustainability managers in these processes.

Design/methodology/approach: This study utilises the construct of accounting toolmaking, which refers to practices of adopting, adjusting and reconfiguring accounting tools to unfold how carbon tools are used as means to materialise responses to multiple interacting carbon management logics. It embraces a field study approach, whereby 38 sustainability managers and staff from 30 organisations in New Zealand were interviewed.

Findings: This study finds that carbon toolmaking is an important means to materialise and effectuate organisations’ response strategies to multiple interacting carbon management logics. Four response strategies are identified: separation, selective coupling, combination and hybridisation. Adopting activity involves considering the additionality, detailing, localising and cascading of carbon measures and targets and their linkage to the broader carbon management programme. In adjusting carbon tools, organisations adapt the frequency and orientation of carbon reporting, intensity of carbon monitoring and breadth of carbon information sharing. Through focusing on either procedural sequencing, assimilating, equating or integrating, toolmaking reconfigures the relationship between carbon tools and traditional management control systems. Together, these three toolmaking activities can be configured differently to construct carbon tools that are fit for purpose for each response strategy. These activities also enact certain roles on sustainability managers in the process of representing, communicating and/or transferring carbon information knowledge, which also facilitate different response strategies.

Practical implications: The study demonstrates the various carbon toolmaking practices that allow organisations to handle the multiple interacting logics in carbon management. The findings provide suggestions for organisations on how to adopt, adjust and reconfigure carbon tools to better embed the ecological logic in organisations’ strategies and operations.

Originality/value: The authors identify how carbon toolmaking materialises and effectuates organisations’ responses to multiple interacting logics in carbon management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-256
Number of pages30
JournalAccounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Volume37
Issue number1
Early online date4 Apr 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2024

Keywords

  • Carbon accounting and management
  • Carbon toolmaking
  • Carbon tools
  • Institutional complexity
  • Multiple institutional logics

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