Accounting for the Environment: Accountability in the Nigerian cement industry

Research output: Thesis (awarded by external institution)Doctoral Thesis


The focus of this thesis is to study corporate environmental accounting in Nigeria, specifically analysing how corporate environmental issues (CEIs) are accounted for in the Nigerian cement industry. Environmental pollution arising from corporate operations has been a major concern among transnational organisations (e.g. World Bank, IMF), governments, policymakers and society. Over the past two or more decades, environmental issues have taken on a more significant role in business decisions, corporate planning and global politics (Boutros-Ghali, 1992; Gray et al., 2014). Environmental issues have certainly deserved attention from academia so that research could be undertaken to understand and address the problems (see Freeman, 1984; Strong, 1992; Callan and Thomas, 2000; Darabaris, 2008). There have been various pieces of research on corporate environmental accounting, however their focus has principally been on issues in developed countries (e.g. Buhr and Freedman, 1996; O’Dwyer, 2005; Gray 2010). Developing and emerging economies are in fact creating significant amounts of environmental pollution on a daily basis due to their industrial development (UNEP, 2011; World Bank, 2014; WHO, 2014). Among others, Nigeria has been identified as one such country, with a high level of environmental pollution that contributes significantly to global environmental problems (Adeoti, 2001; UNEP, 2011; Yale, 2012). In the same vein, corporations in Nigeria have been found to be a key contributor for this problem. While corporations should be held accountable for their impacts on the environment, the political, economic and social context in Nigeria have all made corporate environmental accounting a challenge to be achieved. This highlights the need for more research in this area in order to enhance our knowledge on corporate environmental accounting issues in a developing country such as Nigeria, as well as potentially to initiate discussions on how to resolve corporate environmental problems. Most studies in Nigeria have looked at the impacts of environmental issues with no research focused on the management and reporting of environmental issues by corporations in the country and in particular, the cement industry (up to the time when this thesis was written). Therefore, this thesis examined how corporations in particular cement companies have been managing, accounting and reporting environmental issues generated by their operational activities in Nigeria. In order to achieve the purpose of the thesis, it has been necessary to adopt a subjectivity ontology and interpretive epistemology, which entails the use of qualitative perspectives. The study chose a case study approach (two companies were selected to be the case studies) and collected empirical data using a combination of semi-structured interviews, visual techniques and documentary analysis. Unlike most studies in Nigeria that have used the survey questionnaire approach (Owolabi, 2008; Ngwakwe, 2009; Oba et al., 2012; Hassan and Kouhy, 2013), this thesis will provide a more insightful qualitative view on corporate environmental accounting practices in Nigeria. The study also relied on convergent institutional and resource dependence theories as conceptualised by Oliver (1991) to provide a better understanding of CEIs management and reporting in the two chosen cases in particular and Nigeria as whole. The research found that the cement industry was a key environmental polluter in Nigeria, and that companies were under pressure from a number of agents to reduce environmental pollution. It further showed that environmental accountability practices in the Nigerian cement sector are largely influenced by the external institutional environment/factors, and that environmental accountability practices have become more a means of ensuring legitimacy with no significant impact on the wellbeing of citizens and the environment. It also demonstrated that the case studies adopted certain strategies in confronting the challenges from external institutions. Finally, the study contributes to the existing literature on social and environmental accounting research, especially from an emerging countries perspective. The findings from the research will also have theoretical and practical policy implications in Nigeria and the world at large.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Essex
Award date1 Jan 2017
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jan 2017


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