Complementing TBL reports with central database disclosure regimes

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review


Purpose - Triple-bottom line (TBL) reporting is not the only mechanism available for holding corporations to account for social and environmental performance. This paper explores an alternate mechanism for corporate accountability: companies reporting to a government agency, which then compiles the information in a database format for public use. Design/Methodology - We first present the arguments for and against adopting central database regimes. Next, using two political philosophical frameworks, informed by the qualitative characteristics of financial reports, we develop criteria for evaluating the effectiveness of central databases. Findings - Central databases have the potential to assist the social and environmental accounting project. This approach permits public pressure to be concentrated on the worst performers, thereby continually encouraging those at the bottom to improve their performance. Further, this regime potentially empowers an agency to take responsibility for improving the system for all stakeholders. However, a central database regime may stifle innovation; and could lead to complex regulation and high compliance costs. Originality/Value - This paper contributes to SEA research by arguing why social and environmental accounting research should not focus just on TBL reports, but also consider central database regimes. It also provides two theoretical frameworks for assessing central databases and suggests strategies for improving the usefulness of central databases.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 7th Australasian Conference for Social and Environmental Accounting Research (A-CSEAR 2008)
EditorsRoger L. Burritt
Place of PublicationAdelaide
PublisherCentre for Accounting, Governance and Sustainability
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)9780646496306
Publication statusPublished - 2008
EventAustralasian Conference for Social and Environmental Accounting Research (7th : 2008) - Adelaide
Duration: 7 Dec 20089 Dec 2008


ConferenceAustralasian Conference for Social and Environmental Accounting Research (7th : 2008)


  • TRI
  • NPI
  • social and environmental accounting
  • TBL


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