BOSTON—In the last decade, a growing number of for-profit corporations around the world have started to augment voluntarily their annual financial reports with reports on corporate sustainability, corporate social responsibility, and corporate environmental performance, among others. The financial crisis that began in 2008 has generated additional momentum for corporate accountability reporting.
In 2010, for example, HBS professor Robert Eccles co-wrote the book One Report: Integrated Reporting for a Sustainable Strategy. "Today, more and more companies are publishing voluntary 'Corporate Social Responsibility' or 'Sustainability' reports to supplement their annual reports....To have a real impact," the authors noted, "these separate reports need to be integrated with each other, thereby demonstrating that the company has a sustainable strategy based on a commitment to social responsibility that is contributing to a sustainable society that takes into account the needs of all stakeholders, of which shareholders are one type."
In keeping with these developments, on January 18, 2013, under the leadership of John and Natty McArthur University Professor Rebecca Henderson, an expert on how organizations respond to large-scale technological shifts (most recently in regard to energy and the environment) and Assistant Professor Karthik Ramanna, an authority on accounting standards, financial reports, and corporate accountability, Harvard Business School's Business and Environment Initiative will host an academic conference for research on corporate accountability reporting.
Full-length academic submissions to the 2013 conference must be sent to CorpAccountabilityConf@hbs.edu by September 1, 2012. At the authors' discretion, papers submitted to the conference will be considered for publication in the Journal of Accounting & Economics, subject to the Journal's regular review process and a submission fee of $500.
Professors Henderson and Ramanna have also announced that a $25,000 best paper prize fund has been established by a donation from Hermes Fund Managers, a global asset management firm headquartered in London. Prize winners will be determined by a panel of academics.
"We are pleased to sponsor an award for research in corporate accountability, since this is consistent with our commitment to being a responsible asset manager," said Saker Nusseibeh, head of investment at Hermes Fund Managers. "Academic research that helps improve understanding of the processes for, and the value of, corporate accountability is of great interest to us, as it should be to any long-term investor."
"We are very grateful for this generous award. It will recognize high-quality research in a nascent field," said Professor Ramanna. "Improved understanding of the determinants and consequences of corporate accountability reporting will provide important and actionable new insights for both scholars and practitioners from around the world."