Carbon accounting is still a recent discipline, but it could well change how companies are assessed. It measures the cost of a company’s activities on the environment, and ways of reducing it. Apart from the strict evaluation of a firm’s impact, green accounting makes it possible to measure its performance and capacities for innovation in terms of sustainable development. An increasing number of firms throughout the world have shown an interest in these tools. Danone has carried out some important research on this matter, and helped Delphine Gibassier to carry out a thesis on the subject.
Delphine Gibassier’s work specifically focuses on innovation in terms of controlling environmental management
Entitled « Environmental Management Accounting Development: Institutionalization, Adoption and Practice », Delphine Gibassier’s work specifically focuses on innovation in terms of controlling environmental management. For several months, the searcher observed the Danone teams as they developed their approach to carbon accounting methods. What accounting measurement tools should be used to assess environmental impact? What are the criteria, and what information should be chosen to establish this impact?
Thanks to her immersion, Delphine obtained a clear picture of the challenges that arise when a company draws up its carbon accounts.
« I joined Danone at the very time they were defining their approach to carbon accounting. This helped us to find a zone of exchange, between how I could help them and what they wanted to do. » A management controller at the time, Delphine was trying to find meaning in her job. « I needed a new focus for my work, and environmental issues have always inspired me » she says.
Convinced that environmental accounting was well worth exploring in depth, she naturally thought of doing a PhD. « When I presented my project to Jean-Pierre Rennaud, Laura Palmeiro and Miriam Cohen, members of the company’s environment teams, they immediately wanted to help. They gave me access to the company, and enabled me to carry out my research in ideal conditions, » she says.
An innovative approach
In the field of environmental accounting, the question of companies’ influence on the measurement tool is crucial.
« The fact that Danone had decided to carry out its own research on the subject was extremely useful for my work. Far from being satisfied with a single model, the company decided to innovate in this area and devise its own system, » says Delphine. In the field of environmental accounting, the question of companies’ influence on the measurement tool is crucial. In the case of collective entrepreneurship, Delphine was able to observe how widely-scattered players coordinated this type of accounting. « Danone has introduced new practices in terms of environmental accounting. This move is the result of careful and committed thinking. »
Delphine has happy memories of the time she spent with the Danone teams. « Without them, I would not have been able to work so successfully. Thanks to them my career has taken a new direction, and I am truly grateful. » In 2014, she obtained a second Emerald/EFMD Outstanding Doctoral Research Award from the editorial team of the international academic journal Accounting, Auditing & Accountability, in the category « interdisciplinary accounting research ». She is now continuing her research work, while teaching at the Toulouse Business School.