Toward a More Coherent Understanding of the Organization–Society Relationship: A Theoretical Consideration for Social and Environmental Accounting Research [Book Review]

Journal of Business Ethics 97 (4):651 - 665 (2010)
Abstract
In this study we analyze the overlapping perspectives of legitimacy theory, institutional theory, resource dependence theory, and stakeholder theory. Our purpose is to explore how these theories can inform and be built upon by one another. Through our analysis we provide a broader theoretical understanding of these theories that may support and promote social and environmental accounting research. This article starts with a detailed analysis of legitimacy theory by bringing some recent critical discussions on legitimacy and corporations in the management literature into accounting research. The notion forwarded by legitimacy theory then serves as an overarching concept to examine the relationship between and among theories. We conclude that two theoretical considerations are important for future social and environmental accounting research. First, it must be acknowledged that some business entities initiate social activities based on direct interactions with stakeholders, whereas others may also undertake similar activities to manage their societal level of legitimacy. Second, from analyzing the perspectives of legitimacy theory, institutional theory, resource dependence theory, and stakeholder theory, it is possible to reach compatible interpretations of business social phenomena, and the selection and application of these theories should depend upon the focus of study
Keywords legitimacy theory  institutional theory  resource dependence theory  stakeholder theory  social and environmental accounting research
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Robert Phillips (2003). Stakeholder Legitimacy. Business Ethics Quarterly 13 (1):25-41.
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