Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Meet the Members: Martin Freedman & Aurélia Heurteux

Professor Martin Freedman, Towson University, USA

In 1978 when I returned to the US after 2 years on a kibbutz in Israel I started to look for an academic job. When I interviewed at SUNY Binghamton (now Binghamton University) Bikki Jaggi said he would be happy to do research with me on social accounting. Although Bikki left Binghamton a few years later, we managed to collaborate until last year when he retired. With Bikki and with A.J. Stagliano (with whom I am still collaborating), I found colleagues willing to do research in this nascent field. However, when we were looking for outlets for our earlier work, there seemed to be no accounting journals that believed that social accounting was really accounting.  Eventually a few new accounting journals more devoted to social/environmental accounting were created and eventually CSEAR was formed. Rob asked me if I would like to join and he made me one of the North American representatives. I was excited that a community of scholars focusing on social and environmental research existed and that I was asked to be a member.

The research that I have done with Bikki, Stag, and a number of other colleagues has focused mainly on social and environmental disclosure. Although many of the earlier papers were concerned with occupational health (working with asbestos or cotton dust), most of our publications are about pollution (air, water, toxic wastes, and climate change). We began with the hypothesis that firms that were best at curbing pollution in a given industry do best economically. No one to our knowledge has ever disproved the hypothesis.

I have attended all the CSEAR North American meetings and have found them to be stimulating affairs. When I was on sabbatical a few years ago, Jan Bebbington (and Rob) organized a workshop for me to present some findings concerning climate change at St. Andrews, and they both treated my wife and I royally. I plan to attend the annual meeting in the next few years.

Our role as researchers is to help to make the world a better place for its inhabitants. Studying methods to reduce pollution, improving working conditions, eliminating discrimination at the workplace, and forcing corporations to be good citizens are endeavors that I feel are worthwhile to study. I would be happy to mentor people who focus on these issues and are not hung up on ideology. Ideological battles are important for understanding the issues, but in my mind, they seem to slow the process of making a healthier planet.

Miss Aurélia Heurteux, PhD Candidate, Nice-Côte d'Azur University
Second Year in CSEAR

I became a CSEAR member last year before my participation in the CSEAR France 2017 Conference held at Toulouse Business School, where I met mentors and researchers from several countries. My research interest includes Sustainable Development, Accountability and Public Policy. So it is important for me to be part of different associations.

The last decade in particular has seen sustainability come of age. Many companies, states and countries now recognise sustainability to be strongly linked to business growth and sustainable development still a hot topic. For me, it was interesting to compare the different methods of local authorities to integrate Sustainable Development in management tools. Some are more advanced than others. It is my last year of thesis but I want to continue my research in this area to study political behavior or to create management tools adapted to Public Sector.

Sustainable Development and global performance are a logical evolution for the transparency of local authorities. Citizens have become much more aware of its issues and local authorities must be accountable to follow all these new expectations. So research in social and environmental accounting fields are important.

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