“Speaking Truth to Power”: Analysing shadow reporting as a form of shadow accounting

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To empirically investigate the act of shadow reporting by a social movement organisation as a form of shadow accounting within a sustained campaign against a target corporation. Situated within a consideration of power relations, the rationales underlying the production of the shadow report and the shadow reports perceived value and limits as a shadow accounting mechanism are investigated.

Design/methodology/approach: A Foucauldian approach to power/knowledge and truth is drawn upon in the analysis of a single case study. Alongside a consideration of the shadow report itself, interviews with both the preparers of the report and senior management of the corporation targeted comprise the main data.

Findings: The paper provides an empirical investigation into shadow reporting as a form of shadow accounting. While a range of insights are garnered into the preparation, dissemination and impact of the shadow report, key findings relate to a consideration of power relations. The perceived ‘truth’ status of corporate accounts compared to accounts prepared by shadow accountants is problematised through a consideration of technologies of power and power/knowledge formations. Power relations are subsequently recognised as fundamental to the emancipatory potential of shadow reporting.

Research limitations/implications: Results from a single case study are presented. Furthermore, given the production of the shadow report occurred several years prior to the collection of data, participants were asked to reflect on past events. Findings are therefore based on those reflections.

Originality/value: While previous studies have considered the preparation of shadow reports and their transformative potential, this study is, the author believes, the first to empirically analyse the preparation, dissemination and perceived impacts of shadow reporting from the perspectives of both the shadow report producers and the target corporation.

Keywords: shadow accounting; shadow reporting; power/knowledge

Paper type: Research paper
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)510-533
Number of pages24
JournalAccounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2017

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