Variation in sustainability assurance practice: An analysis of accounting versus non-accounting providers

Charika Channuntapipat, Anna Samsonova - Taddei, William Turley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Downloads (Pure)


This study explores sustainability assurance (SA) practice as
an arena of jurisdictional competition between accounting and nonaccounting
assurance providers. Prior literature on SA, a non-financial
assurance practice, has documented the presence of both accounting and
non-accounting firms as two major provider categories, pointing to the
possibility of significant variation in practice among them. Unlike most
prior studies that rely on the analysis of the content of SA reports,
this article draws on an in-depth interview-based investigation of the
practice. In particular, by reference to Abbott's theory of professions
(1988), we explore efforts by different SA providers to claim their
professional practice space. Our findings reveal notable differences in
the providers' approaches to SA, both between and within the two key
provider groups. We make sense of these differences as a consequence of
the inter- and intra-professional competitive dynamics where different
categories of providers appeal to and emphasize divergent knowledge bases
and distinctive types of expertise as a way to differentiate themselves
from competition and legitimize their practice approaches. This study
contributes to the extant SA literature by providing a holistic overview
of the practice field and an empirically drawn perspective on the nature
of practice variation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe British Accounting Review
Early online date21 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


Dive into the research topics of 'Variation in sustainability assurance practice: An analysis of accounting versus non-accounting providers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this