In recent years a series of developments in apparently loosely coupled domains have contributed to the development of new and vital perspectives on how to manage complex social systems such as corporations. These developments include improved communications technologies, increased awareness by constituencies of their potentials for influencing corporate behaviour, increased complexity and reduced transparency in large, heterogeneous organisations, a corresponding reduction in the capacity of traditional accounting and reporting systems to reflect organisational performance, new demands from employees as to their work environments, from customers as to ecological and ethical sensitivity, from civil society and governments as to social and environmental accountability etc.
A result is a major shift in the way organisations are choosing to observe themselves and to describe, measure, evaluate and report on their performance. From a focus on efficiency and control to a values-based perspective on management, corporate identity and success. And from a focus on legal compliance and financial performance to a focus on corporate social and ethical responsibility and accountability.
The introduction provides a background for this transformation while the body of the paper motivates the on-going shift from control to values-based management. The article concludes with reflections on corporate accountability and the emerging practices of social and ethical accounting, auditing and reporting.