Exploring shadow accountability: the case of James Hardie and asbestos



Publication Details

Moerman, L. & van der Laan, S. (2015). Exploring shadow accountability: the case of James Hardie and asbestos. Social and Environmental Accountability Journal, 35 (1), 32-48.


Accountability brings to the fore a range of discourses that are said to provide an account. This paper takes the controversial issue of asbestos to explore silent and shadow accounting as a means of providing a more holistic accountability. The practice of silent and shadow accounting is built on a long tradition of counter narratives that expose deficiencies in corporate disclosure and provide shadow accountability for corporate activities. By drawing on these counter accounts from civil society and others, we initially develop a taxonomy of corporate disclosure gaps - praxis, reporting, truth and potential. Using the Silent and Shadow Reports of James Hardie Industries SE, the former dominant manufacturer of asbestos products in Australia, we provide empirical evidence to support an understanding of these disclosure gaps. The shadow metaphor is then invoked to understand the multidimensional concept of shadow accountability.

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