Skip to main content

Accountability and Sustainable Development

  • 656 Accesses


Accountability is a term that has been widely discussed and is defined as, “The duty to provide an account or reckoning of those actions for which one is held responsible. Accountability has two crucial components: it arises as a result of a relationship between two or more parties (be the individual, loose associations or organizations) and its nature is determined by the social and moral context in which the relationship is manifest” (Gray et al. 2014: 50). Accountability is often overlapped with other related concepts, such as transparency, responsibility, and clarity (Bovens 2007).

Linkage Between Accountability and Sustainable Development to MNCs

According to the above definition of accountability, each individual will have an innumerable relationship with different individuals, parties, and organizations. Each relationship could be in different purposes. What is considered acceptable behavior in the relationship? Different customs, different cultures, and different...

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1


  • Adams C, Narayanan V (2007) The standardization of sustainability reporting. In: Unerman J, Bebbington J, O’Dwyer B (eds) Sustainability accounting and accountability. Routledge, Oxon, pp 70–85

    Google Scholar 

  • Blowfield M, Murray A (2014) Corporate responsibility. Oxford University Press, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • Bovens M (2007) New forms of accountability and EU-governance. Comp Eur Polit 5(1):104–120

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Crane A, Matten D (2016) Business ethics: managing corporate citizenship and sustainability in the age of globalization, International edn. Oxford University Press, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • Dillard J (2007) Legitimating the social accounting project: an ethic of accountability. In: Unerman J, Bebbington J, O’Dwyer B (eds) Sustainability accounting and accountability. Routledge, Oxon, pp 37–54

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Elkington J (1997) Cannibals with forks: the triple bottom line of 21st century business. Capstone Publishing Ltd, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • Global Reporting Initiative (2015) G4 sustainability reporting guidelines. Global Reporting Initiative, Netherlands

    Google Scholar 

  • Gray R (2010) Is accounting for sustainability actually accounting for sustainability...and how would we know? An exploration of narratives of organisations and the planet. Acc Organ Soc 35(1):47–62

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Gray R, Herremans IM (2012) Sustainability and social responsibility reporting and the emergence of the external social audits: the struggle for accountability. In: Bansal P, Hoffman AJ (eds) The Oxford handbook of business and the natural environment. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 405–424

    Google Scholar 

  • Gray R, Adams CA, Owen D (2014) Accountability, social responsibility and sustainability: accounting for society and the environment. Pearson Education Limited, Harlow

    Google Scholar 

  • ISO (2014) ISO 26000 guidance on social responsibility. International Organization for Standardization, Geneva

    Google Scholar 

  • ISO (2016) ISO 50001 energy management systems. International Organization for Standardization, Geneva

    Google Scholar 

  • ISO (2017a) About ISO. Accessed 18 Sept 2017

  • ISO (2017b) ISO 14000 family – environmental management. Accessed 25 Nov 2017

  • ISO (2017c) ISO 26000:2010 Guidance on social responsibility. Accessed 25 Nov 2017

  • KPMG (2015) KPMG International Survey of Corporate Social Reporting 2015. Netherlands, KPMG

    Google Scholar 

  • Leung TCH (2015) An initial exploration of corporate social disclosure and responsible gambling disclosure in Macau’s gambling industry. In: Noronha C (ed) Corporate social disclosure: new observations in China and Japan. Palgrave Macmillan, Hampshire, pp 153–197

    Google Scholar 

  • Leung TCH, Gray R (2016) Social responsibility disclosure in the international gambling industry: a research note. Meditari Account Res 24(1):73–90

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Leung TCH, Snell RS (2017) Attraction or distraction? Corporate social responsibility in Macao’s gambling industry. J Bus Ethics 145(3):637–658

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Noronha C, Leung TCH, Lei O (2015) Corporate social responsibility disclosure in Chinese Railway companies: corporate response after a major train account. Sustainability, Accounting, Management Policy Journal 6(4):446–476

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Rawls J (1972) A theory of justice. Oxford University Press, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • The United Nations (2017a) 17 goals to transform our world. Accessed 25 Sept 2017

  • The United Nations (2017b) The sustainable development agenda. Accessed 25 Sept 2017

  • The United Nations (2017c) The Paris agreement. Accessed 14 Oct 2017

  • The United Nations Global Compact (2014) Guide to corporate sustainability: shaping a sustainable future. Two United Nations Plaza, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) (2017) Our approach. Accessed 17 Sept 2017

  • Unerman J, Bebbington J, O’Dwyer B (2007) Sustainability accounting and accountability. Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, London

    Google Scholar 

  • World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) (1987) Our common future. Oxford University Press, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Tiffany C. H. Leung .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Section Editor information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2019 Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this entry

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this entry

Leung, T.C.H., Ng, A.W. (2019). Accountability and Sustainable Development. In: Leal Filho, W. (eds) Encyclopedia of Sustainability in Higher Education. Springer, Cham.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-319-63951-2

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-319-63951-2

  • eBook Packages: Springer Reference EducationReference Module Humanities and Social Sciences