Blended Value Accounting In Social Entrepreneurship
Author: Alex Nicholls
Date: October 2009
Publication: Accounting, Organisations and Society
This paper presents an exploratory analysis of the emergent reporting practices used by social entrepreneurs in terms of their institutional settings and strategic objectives. These reporting practices not only account for financial performance but also disclose more nuanced and contingent social and environmental impacts and outcomes. Furthermore, they act as symbolic objects expressing the market orientation of many socially entrepreneurial organisations in that they aim to provide more complete and transparent disclosure of a variety of performance impacts. Conceptually, this paper draws upon approaches developed within the sociology of accounting as institutional practice and uses three theoretical interpretations to conceptualize the function and effects of reporting, disclosure, and audit in social entrepreneurship: positivist; critical theorist; and interpretative. A discussion of five case studies leads to the development of a new theoretical construct – ‘Blended Value Accounting’ – that constitutes a spectrum of disclosure logics used by social entrepreneurs to access resources and realize organisational mission objectives with key stakeholders. Conclusions consider some further questions around socially entrepreneurial reporting practices and strategies and suggest some new lines of research going forward.
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