Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to consider the potential of engagement research by exploring the literature on engagement research. Engagement research in social and environmental accounting (SEA) aims to enhance the social, environmental and ethical accountability of organizations and conceives that understanding SEA demands engaging with the (social and organizational) fields in which SEA is envisaged and practiced. Design/methodology/approach – In this respect, the paper suggests a dialogue between the expectations about engagement research and what has been delivered in the literature. This paper reviews 32 articles publishing engagement research studies to explore the methodology of engagement research. Findings – The paper concludes that this methodology is consistent with notions of research in the context of application and extended peer-review communities. Further, this study shows a promising cross-fertilization between interpretive insight and critical enlightenment in engagement research. The paper also explores in more depth three methodological issues: what is specific about engagement research, particularly compared to stakeholder engagement; that the decision about the locus of engagement research does not seem to be driven by the characteristics of organizations, but by the potential insight and enlightenment that the empirical setting can yield; and, finally, that engagement research requires more space for reflexivity. Originality/value – This paper provides a reference for the methodological design of engagement research studies.
Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 2, 2015