School of Management
Royal Holloway University of London

The Centre for Research into Sustainability

Theoretical Developments of Accountability and Risk

Project Description

Risk is a pervasive construct in society, and has permeated an increasing number of disciplines. This project seeks to develop new theoretical insights into accounting as a risk discourse. It draws heavily on aspects of the works of Anthony Giddens and Ulrich Beck on the nature of reflexive modernity, which have yet to be used extensively in the accounting academic literature.

One aspect of the project uses empirical material from the regulatory reaction to large scale corporate and accounting failures in the USA in the early years of the 21st century to analyse the applicability of Giddens' and Beck's theoretical constructs. The remainder of the project explores how social reporting can be viewed as a form of discourse aimed at minimising the risk (for corporations) which can arise from public perceptions of unintended consequences of corporate activities.

Expected Outcomes

The project promises results in the following areas:


The project is mainly theoretical, with some empirical data coming from secondary sources.


Jeffrey Unerman (Manchester Business School)

Brendan O'Dwyer (Professor of Accounting at the University of Amsterdam)