Ken McPhail


This essay explores the extent to which the emerging field of Business and Human Rights presents an opportunity to push our theorizing in new directions and extend our understanding of the potential role that accounting could play in contributing to a better and more sustainable world. 

The paper critically explores the stakeholder conception of corporate social responsibility that has dominated research on Social and Environmental Accounting to date. The first substantive part of the paper outlines the three main strands of stakeholder theory research: descriptive accuracy, normative validity, and instrumental power and begins to explore how the rightsholder perspective, encapsulated in the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights, extends these three perspectives and addresses some of the limitations in stakeholder theory.

The second substantive section outlines two specific opportunities for new directions in accounting research: first concerning the connection between corporate accountability and democracy and second about the theorization of accounting measurement. The first issue relates to the theory of the firm, the second, to our theory of value.