Managing the economic, social and environmental performance of organizations


Diane-Laure ARJALIES (
Afshin MEHRPOUYA ( (Coordinator)

Assistant: Laurence Thévenoux (

Building: W2, Room 41

Course Description

Accounting and management control systems are key technologies that mediate the accountability relationships between the multinational firm and its stakeholders. The limits of the nation states to regulate those international accountability relationships have led to the emergence of a host of transnational codes, standards and audits aimed at ensuring responsible firm behavior towards all stakeholders. Challenges of accounting, management and, accountability are not restricted to the for-profit sector, however. In this course we also examine how non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and worker-cooperatives experience the challenges of performance measurement and accountability.
In this course, we plan to provide an alternative viewpoint on accounting and management control systems by addressing the following topics:
1- What accounting systems are used to account for societal and environmental impact of the firms? Has environmental and social accounting achieved its intended accountability goals?
2- Why and how financial markets deal with the environmental and social externalities of the firms?
3- What control systems are used in other organizational forms such as worker–owned cooperatives and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and what are the challenges and implications of implementing control in such contexts?

Learning Outcomes

When you successfully complete this course, you should be able to:
• Identify and explain (a) how firms’ management control systems impact the society and the environment in which they operate; (b) how firms manage their environmental and social performance; and (c) how other forms of organization (e.g. NGOs and worker cooperatives) use control systems to meet their mission and objectives.
• Assess the role accounting and management control systems are playing in achieving intra organizational and stakeholder accountability.
• Critically examine (a) the role accounting systems are playing in the relationship between the firm and the society.
• Define and apply action plans for “alternative” and adapted accounting and management systems, taking into consideration a wide range of secondary implications associated with the use of such tools in different organization types and social contexts.

Key Topics

The course is organized in nine 2 hour-long sessions and covers the following topics:

Session 1: Overview of performance measurement systems (Arjalies, Martinez, Mehrpouya)

What do I know about performance measurement systems (PMS)? What are the underlying philosophies in different PMS regarding human agent and firm’s accountability?

o Introduction, preliminary definitions
o What is “performance”?
o What is “value”?
o Organizations and stakeholder
o Readings:
• Ouchi W. (1980), ‘Markets, Bureaucracies and Clans’, Administrative Science Quarterly, 25, March, pp129-141
• Freeman, R. E., Wicks, A. C., and Parmar, B. (2004) ‘Stakeholder theory and “the corporate objective revisited”’. Organization Science, 15, 364–369.

Session 2: Accounting systems, the Environment and Society (Mehrpouya)

Can we measure the environmental and societal responsibility of organizations? What are the challenges?

o Overview of environmental and social accounting and accountability
o The challenges of reconciling shareholders and the stakeholders
o In class exercise: The Access to Medicine Index
o Reading: Cooper S. and Owen D., (2007), Corporate social reporting and stakeholder accountability: The missing link, Accounting, Organizations and Society, 32: 642-667

Session 3: Environment, Society and Capital Markets (Mehrpouya)

Why do investors care about the firms’ environmental and social performance? How do they measure it?
o Overview of responsible investments and the integration of environmental and social issues in capital markets
o Overview of environmental, social, and governance ratings
o Does doing good translate to doing well?
o Case studies: Norway sells Walmart
o Reading: Haigh, M. and Hazelton, J. (2004), Financial Markets: A Tool for Social Responsibility?, Journal of Business Ethics, 52 (1),:59-71

Sessions 4 and 5: On Performativity: Measurement, Tools and Self-Fulfillment in the financial markets (Arjaliès)

Do financial models work because they make sense, or because they are widely used to make sense of the world?

o Overview of the power of tools in the financial markets
o Introduction of a pragmatist approach of instruments
o Performativity and self-fulfilling prophecy
o Case studies: Driving Sustainability at Bloomberg L.P., Christopher Marquis, Daniel Beunza, Fabrizio Ferraro, Bobbi Thomason, Harvard Business Case (2010)
o Reading: MacKenzie?, D. and Y. Millo. 2003. "Constructing a Market, Performing Theory: The Historical Sociology of a Financial Derivatives Exchange." American Journal of Sociology 109: 107-145.

Session 6: Performance and management control: beyond the principal-agent relation? The case of worker-owned cooperatives (Martinez)

What are the functions of management controls in organizations where worker are the owners? How can performance measurement and control be aligned with an organization’s economic and social aspirations?

o Overview of the cooperative organizational model
o Workers’ self-management and control
o Case study: Fernandez, D., Trujillo, D.M., & Gutierrez, R. (2003). Indupalma and the Associated Labor Cooperatives, 1991-2002. Social Enterprise Knowledge Network.
o Optional reading: Bryer, A. R. (2011). Accounting as learnt social practice: The case of the empresas recuperadas in Argentina. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 36 (8), 478-493.

Session 7: Performance measurement and the challenge of accountability in non-governmental organizations (NGOs) (Martinez)

What controls are adopted by NGOs, what do they measure, and how do they affect organizational practices?

o Overview of NGOs and their control systems
o Control at a distance: NGO relationship to funding agencies
o Case study: Ebrahim, A. & Gordon, R. (2013). ActionAid? International: Globalizing Governance, Localizing Accountability. Harvard Business School.
o Optional reading: O’Dwyer?, B., & Unerman J. (2008). The paradox of greater NGO accountability: A case study of Amnesty Ireland. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 33(7-8), 801-824.

Sessions 8-9 (Arjalies, Martinez, Mehrpouya)

Final presentation – wrap-up

Course Material

Required Textbook
No specific textbook is assigned in this course. You will be provided with required readings (research articles, cases, book chapters, etc.) for all sessions through K-Hub.
Teaching Methods
Throughout the course, we will regularly engage in class discussions to pool ideas and experiences from the group. We will use case studies to strengthen your analytic and problem solving skills.




Class participation (10%),

• Is evaluated based on level and quality of contribution to class discussions and class presence

Four individual analyses of the four business cases (sessions 3,5,6,7) used in the class (40%)

• The write-up should be uploaded to K-Hub before the corresponding session
o The write-up should be a maximum of two pages excluding references and appendices – 1.5 spacing – 12 font
• Evaluation criteria
o Understanding of the reading material (40%)
o Originality of analysis (40%)
o Quality of writing (20%)

A final group project (50%)

o To be prepared and presented in groups of 3-4
o Can be on a topic of your choice related to the course – it is recommended that you choose a topic related to your field work as part of your Alternative Management Major (the "Operational Projects")
o Deliverables include
• A final presentation by the group
• Annotated presentation file which would be used by the professors to evaluate your work - presentation to be uploaded to K-Hub before the final session of the class
o Evaluation criteria
• Presentation (40%): assessed by the professors and your classmates
• Relevance to course
• Interest / learning
• Quality of research
• Quality of analysis
• Quality of presentation

• Annotated powerpoint (60%)
• Relevance to course
• Interest / learning
• Quality of research
• Originality of analysis
• Quality of the content/flow


1 Monday 9/9 14h-16h
Mehrpouya Overview of Accounting and performance measurement systems
2 Monday 16/9 14h-16h
Mehrpouya Accounting, Management Control Systems, the Environment, and Society
3 Monday 23/9 15h30-17h30
Mehrpouya Environment, Society, and Capital Markets
4 Tuesday 1/10 14h-16h
Arjalies On Performativity: Measurement, Tools and Self-Fulfillment in the financial markets
5 Tuesday 8/10 10h-12h
Arjalies On Performativity: Measurement, Tools and Self-Fulfillment in the financial markets
6 Thursday 10/10 14h-16h
Martinez Performance and Management control in worker cooperatives
7 Tuesday 15/10 10h-12h
Martinez Performance measurement and accountability in non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
8 Thursday 17/10 10h-12h Arjalies, Martinez, Mehrpouya Final Presentations
9 Thursday 17/10 14h-16h (all) Arjalies, Martinez, Mehrpouya Final Presentations

Collaborateur(s) de cette page: Luis_Cuenca .
Page modifiée dernièrement le Vendredi 23 de Août, 2013 20:36:42 CEST par Luis_Cuenca.

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