Tentative evidence suggests a positive correlation between profitability and sustainability thus implying a general business case for sustainability. Why then do not all companies embrace sustainability and make the world a better place and earn money at the same time? This paper argues that managers have to obey the accounting rules and carry out the actions implied by these rules when used in a business context. However, accounting rules are inherently flawed when it comes to sustainability. This is because the accounting principles stem from neo-classical economics and narrow forms for utilitarianism. Furthermore, because accounting as a social structure and system reproduces itself and its flaws through the enactment of social agents, the situation is extremely difficult to change. The business case for sustainability thus becomes contextual at best. The discussion draws on works of authors who have examined the link between accounting, neo-classical economics and sustainability as well as Giddens' structuration theory and the work of authors who have examined accounting as a social practice.
Proceedings From the International Sustainable Development Research Conference, 2004
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International Sustainable Development Research Conference, 2004