How to use accounting to monitor and control sustainability?

Wednesday 29 November 2023, 2:30 pm
PhD student
E.J. Willekes drs.
prof. dr. J. Jonker
dr. J. Wagensveld

In 1994, it was John Elkington who coined the term “triple bottom line”(TBL). This is generally seen as the first attempt to incorporate social and environmental impact in an accounting framework. When reflecting on the TBL in 2018, Elkington stated that regardless of the overload of emerging sustainability frameworks in the last two decades, the TBL concept failed to bury the economic accounting paradigm of a single bottom line. However, a minority of organizations prove that it is possible to successfully create a balance between economic, ecological and social value, the so-called multiple value creation (MVC). In our study, we intend to learn from these organizations. In doing so, we have investigated how their monitoring and control processes (management control systems) are designed and implemented concerning MVC. Our research shows that current accounting systems are designed to primarily facilitate the economic accounting paradigm of a single bottom line. We conclude that monitoring and controlling MVC requires another way of thinking, also referred to as integrated thinking. This research explores how MCSs can be designed and implemented to support integrated thinking, showing the complex interplay between relevant control elements, including the needed role of the accounting and control professional thereto.  

Egbert Willekes studies Business Economics at Erasmus University and graduated in 1994. He started his professional career at KPMG as an auditor and qualified as a “Registered Accountant” in 1998. He moved on with his career in several business controller and CFO roles for several different organizations. In 2012 he decided to switch his career and started as a lecturer at The Hague University of Applied Science. He got inspired to start with a PhD project about the construction of MCS focusing on MVC at Nijmegen School of Management. Since January 2023, Egbert is a senior researcher at HAN University of Applied Science, continuing and further deepening his current research. It is the intention that he will be appointed as lector of Future Proof Control at the HAN after obtaining his PhD degree. He has published several white papers, conference proceedings, book sections and journal papers on his research topic.