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Accounting, Finance and Economics
Oxford Brookes Business School
+44 (0) 1865 485818
CLC.2.27, Clerici Building, Headington Campus
Maureen is undertaking a PhD at Sheffield Business School – Accounting for Purpose: a neglected narrative. Through this she is part of a research cluster studying social enterprise based at Sheffield Business School.
She is also part of the Accounting in Society cluster within the Accounting, Finance and Economics department at Oxford Brookes. And part of the Alternatives to Business as Usual Cluster which straddles departments in the Business Faculty.
Maureen is a member of MECIC (Equipe de Recherche Mgt Culturel) at Burgundy Business School, ESC Dijon, and a regular visiting lecturer there.
Co-operatives, built on mutuality, present a challenge to the dominant paradigm of the investororiented business. It is difficult, if not impossible, to understand and explain co-operative activities properly inthe language of returns on financial investment. This paper argues that we need to develop an accountingwhich facilitates understanding co-operatives on their own terms; an accounting which would allow cooperatives to reclaim the conversation about the sort of society we want to build together from the debatesabout returns on investment.
This paper sets out to explore and champion the possibility of the co-operative movement developing aspecifically co-operative oriented format for financial accounting and reporting which would allow cooperatives to differentiate themselves from both investor-oriented businesses and philanthropic organisations: a statement of recommended practice (SORP) in accounting and reporting for co-operatives. Reporting under such a SORP would allow co-operatives to recognise their fundamental principles of participation, mutuality, democracy and community through membership as opposed to investor supremacy or philanthropy whilst still complying with international financial reporting standards (IFRS).
This paper uses the SORP in accounting and reporting for charities in the UK as an example of how a verydifferent approach to accounting (concentrating on the organisational purpose) can be, and actually is,accommodated under IFRS in order to explore what can be learnt for co-operatives.
In social economy research, the issue of ‘profit’ (whether to make and/or distribute it) is a dominant framing concept. We argue that this dominance (even negatively referenced) maintains the hegemony of financial capital and the ‘for-profit’ paradigm. By refusing to accept a definition that labels organisations in terms of what they are not, scholars of co-operative development, social enterprise and voluntary action can better understand the value-creating activities of third sector organisations (TSOs) on their own terms. We argue that scholars and policy makers are complicit in maintaining the dominance of financial capital and the for-profit paradigm when they adopt for-profit/non-profit language in debates about their field. The counter-narrative we offer is based on engagement with work from the International Integrated Reporting Council (IRC) and FairShares Association (FSA). By comparing six capitals defined by the IIRC with the FSA’s statement on ‘six forms of wealth’, we offer a new way to account for the wealth creation of co-operatives, (other) social enterprises and voluntary associations. This ‘for-purpose’ framework for TSOs “reclaims the conversation” by identifying the wealth creation of social enterprises in comparison with the wealth destruction of private companies locked into chrematistic accounting and reporting practices which focus on the pursuit of profit for its own sake. This allows the fundamental differences between for-purpose enterprises (primarily social) and not-for-purpose businesses (primarily financial) to be clearly articulated.
Charities are often complex and networked, and face an increasingly demanding environment. Providing stakeholders with timely and adequate information on activities and impact is therefore challenging. Based on case studies of six UK charities, this paper finds that small/medium charities can use Enterprise Performance (EPM) systems to support providing such information, despite some challenges to their use of IT. There is an increasing awareness in charities of the importance of data, though technical aspects of data management are taxing for them. Compared to SMEs, charities share many of the challenges for IT-enhancement, but benefit from additional encouraging factors. EPM thinking, which is the ability to use an integrated and strategic approach to IT-support for EPM, is extant in charities’ Leadership and Business Systems Thinking capabilities. Necessary capabilities related to IT sourcing are much weaker and need external support. The study identified two different approaches to data integration and business process modelling in EPM: the first focuses on standardising performance measures across activities and projects, the second on standardising reporting processes while allowing for diversity of measures. The use of BI is largely unsophisticated, though improving, and may need enhancing to address the increasingly complex internal and external need for information.