Moral accounting? Employee disclosures from a stakeholder accountability perspective

Sarah J Williams, Carol Alison Adams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


he purpose of this paper is to examine how disclosure of employee issues by a large UK bank may or may not promote transparency and accountability (as assessed by the completeness of the account) toward the employee stakeholder group, and to shed light on the implications of the organisation-society relationship for employee accountability. Design/methodology/approach: The intrinsic stakeholder framework forms the basis of the qualitative, longitudinal analysis. It is adopted as the moral ground for the provision of a complete account of employee issues. In seeking to shed light on the organisation-society relationship and its implications for reporting on employee issues the authors build a broader theoretical framework incorporating various social and political theories dealing with legitimacy, political economy, and language and rhetoric. Interpretive and critical approaches are employed. The analysis draws on an extensive review of published materials relating to employment in the UK retail banking industry and NatWest in particular, impacts of workplace changes occurring in the banking sector, and to the economic, social and political environment over the period of the study. Findings: The findings indicate that what and how NatWest reported on employee issues was influenced by considerations other than transparency and employee accountability. The analysis highlights the complexity of the role of disclosures in the organisation-society relationship and consequently the limitations of the use of a single theoretical framework to interpret disclosures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)449 - 495
Number of pages47
JournalAccounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Cite this