Innovations in accountability: social responsibility, non-financial information and inclusive finance

Track3 Innovations in accountability: social responsibility, non-financial information and inclusive finance


In recent years there has been an increase in reforms aimed at raising the levels of transparency and accountability in companies. Maintaining the success of a business depends on a number of factors, including a clear perception of the expectations of the various social players, a precise definition of duties at various organisational levels regarding the use and consumption of resources, and the ability to establish a lasting and shared dialogue with important stakeholders. Naturally, the company’s ability to operate while maintaining standards of effectiveness requires rethinking the system of responsibilities, so that managers remain accountable, while at the same time advocating the need for control.

In this perspective, companies today have to face this change and manage it, with important repercussions, especially on traditional reporting systems. Proof of this is found in the recent Directive 2014/95/EU, a considerable innovation since, among other things, it has eliminated the gap between mandatory and voluntary non-financial reporting for certain categories of business. Applicable areas of research include the further changes attributable to the spread of new communication vehicles (e.g. social media), regulatory reforms and their increasing encouragement of inclusion and sustainability in management, and the pressure exerted by stakeholders to ensure proper levels of information transparency and accountability.

This track is therefore intended as an opportunity for scholars, professionals and those interested in business disciplines to exchange ideas, in order to provide support to companies by suggesting approaches, models and behaviours to ensure accountability becomes an integral part of business strategies. The objective of the track is to analyse and highlight existing trends, especially following recent regulatory changes, in the study and practice of accountability systems, with particular reference, though not limited to the non-financial sphere.

In particular, institutional, economic, social and technological changes have drawn attention to issues such as sustainability, inclusion, transparency, dialogue, risks and the environment, in order to better interpret, appreciate and communicate value creation processes, in a dimension that extends to all significant stakeholders. Therefore, this track includes research topics related to non-financial reporting, auditing and control systems, sustainable management and management of environmental dynamics, in the context of private and public-owned companies of all sizes.

The track aims to stimulate debate on the state of the art in national studies compared to internationally and to reflect on the directions new research will take.

These are the themes in this track:

  • Regulation and new trends in non-financial corporate reporting: this theme includes contributions that analyse the links between regulation (in the broadest sense) and non-financial disclosure systems. In particular, work is encouraged that proposes theories and innovative methodologies for verifying the impact of reforms in the field of non-financial information on corporate behaviour; analysis of the impact of such reforms on organisational, management and control models; analysis of the degree of compliance of companies with regulatory provisions on sustainability reporting; analysis of the impact of new non-financial disclosure systems on the decisions and behaviour of external stakeholders.
  • Sustainability and innovation in management accounting systems: this track includes contributions that analyse the two-way relationship on how management accounting tools can contribute to ensuring social and environmental sustainability and how the demands for sustainability made by different categories of stakeholders can influence the innovation of management accounting systems. Contributions are welcomed that propose methodologies that move away from past approaches, with a particular emphasis on the tools, qualitative and quantitative indicators, and strategic dimension employed or designed to measure sustainability, including environmental sustainability.
  • Sustainability, non-financial information and auditing: this them welcomes contributions that analyse the role of auditing and assurance systems in a context of a growing focus on accountability. Contributions are encouraged that analyse theoretically or empirically the role of external control and assurance systems for non-financial information, the challenges faced by auditors verifying this type of information, the new audit quality measures that should be used, as well as the impact of external control and assurance systems on corporate behaviour and on the decisions of the main external interlocutors.
  • Sustainability and inclusive finance: the growing focus on sustainability has also led to developments in finance, with the promotion of sustainable and inclusive forms of finance and the creation or adaptation of related new information needs. Contributions are encouraged that analyse theoretically or empirically the information needs and measurement systems on which inclusive finance is based.
  • New trends in non-financial reporting in the History of Accounting: this theme includes contributions from scholars in History of Accounting who have encountered the imposed requirements and/or free production of documents from companies in past centuries up to the middle of the twentieth, and who intend to inform third parties on aspects not only of a financial nature. In particular, work is encouraged that proposes theories and innovative methodologies for verifying the impact of reforms in the field of non-financial information on corporate behaviour in the past.

Publication of contributions

The best contributions presented at the conference may be fast-tracked to the following journals, subject to the ordinary refereeing process:

  • Accounting and cultures/Contabilità e Cultura Aziendale(Editor in Chief: Stefania Servalli)
  • Financial Reporting (Editor in Chief: Francesco Giunta)
  • Impresa Progetto Electronic Journal of Management (Editor in chief: Piermaria Ferrando)
  • Management Control (Editor in Chief: Luciano Marchi)
  • Rivista Italiana di Ragioneria e di Economia Aziendale (Editor in Chief: Stefano Bresciani)