Unit Outline Corporate Sustainability and the Triple Bottom Line BFA 719

Unit Outline Corporate Sustainability and the Triple Bottom Line BFA 719

BFA 719

Corporate Sustainability and the Triple

Bottom Line

Semester Two 2008

School of Accounting and Corporate Governance

Faculty of Business

Unit Outline

Kathy Gibson

CRICOS Provider Code: 00586B

Contact details

Unit coordinator/lecturer:

Campus: e-mail:



Room number

Consultation hours:

Kathy Gibson


[email protected]

+61 3 6226 2758

+61 3 6226 2170


Any time by appointment

© The University of Tasmania 2008


Unit description

Learning outcomes

Generic graduate attributes

Learning Outcomes/Generic Graduate Attributes Matrix

Prior knowledge &/or skills

Learning resources

Details of teaching arrangements








Unit schedule

Learning expectations and strategies



Assessment 8

Requests for extensions 13

Penalties 13

Review of results and appeals

Academic referencing



Plagiarism 14

Further information and assistance 14


Unit description

This unit provides an introduction to the concept of economic, social and environmental (triple bottom line) reporting and performance, from both a business and social perspective. The unit explores the link between triple bottom line (TBL) reporting and the concept of sustainability. The unit also examines related areas of corporate and government accountability, including corporate social responsibility and corporate ethics.

Learning outcomes

The aims of the unit are to provide a structured framework within which students from many disciplines can explore the issues of corporate accountability and the effects of business operations on society and the natural environment.

Its overall aim is to enable students to gain an understanding of the ways in which corporate information is reported. There is evidence that a major objective of corporate reports is to convey propaganda, or to attempt to legitimise the activities of business in various ways. Accounting information in particular can be used as an

“excuse” for avoiding social and environmental responsibility, or to obtain benefits for business that, whilst economically beneficial, might not be in the overall best interests of the community.

On completion of this unit, you should be able to:

1. Discuss issues of corporate governance and accountability to society and the environment

2. Develop practical multi-disciplinary solutions within a framework of real cases

3. Use accounting information in contributing more fully to the corporate social responsibility (CSR) debate

4. Assess and use social and environmental accountability information to assist in working towards environmental sustainability and social justice


Generic graduate attributes

The University has defined a set of generic graduate attributes that can be expected of all graduates (see http://www.utas.edu.au/tl/policies/index.htm). By undertaking this unit you should make progress in attaining the following attributes:

Knowledge: being able to discuss and apply a range of underlying concepts and principles relevant to the preparation and use of accountability information and triple bottom line reports;

Communication skills: through essay and report writing, and discussion activities, being able to effectively communicate across a range of contexts; being able to present well-reasoned arguments; and being able to access and organise information from a variety of media;

Problem-solving skills: being able to conceptualise problems and formulate solutions; to interpret and analyse data; to search, evaluate and use appropriate information; to think logically, and to critically appraise a range of issues;

Global perspective: since triple bottom line concerns are a global issue, every topic covered in the unit takes a global perspective, using both local and global examples

Social responsibility: corporate social responsibility and how this can be achieved is the main focus of this unit.

Learning Outcomes/Generic Graduate Attributes


Assessment Task 1 Assignment 1: Part A – Short Essay

Assessment Task 1

Assignment 2: Part B - Written


Assessment Task 2

Assessment Task 3

Learning Outcomes:

UTas Generic

Graduate Attribute

Assignment 2

Online Discussion

Learning outcome 1

Learning outcome 2

Learning outcome 3

Learning outcome 4


Matrix adapted from Unit Outline, Faculty of Business, University of the Sunshine Coast 2003


Prior knowledge &/or skills

There are no specific prerequisites for this unit.

Learning resources

Interactive CD:

Extensive course materials will be provided through interactive CD, MyLO and, where appropriate, printed media. Many links are provided to web-based materials, but students are expected to maintain an awareness of current issues through accessing appropriate additional academic sources and media presentations.


MyLO is a learning management system that has been adopted by the University and will be used in this unit. MyLO may be accessed on computers in computing laboratories at the University or on your computer at home or at work. Information about accessing and using this service, about required computer specifications, frequently asked questions, and about how to get help if you experience difficulties, is available at the following University website:


You will need to visit this site and become familiar with the features of MyLO, especially if you have not used it before. Here are some important points about accessing our web site:

Access to MyLO

You can access MyLO from the Student Page on the University’s web site: Current



LOGIN [email protected] or go directly to the site via the links on the Unit


• Enter your email POP account “Username” (for example, dsmith) and your

“Password”. These are identical to the pop account/email username and password that you are given with your enrolment confirmation form. If you forget your pop account username, contact the Help Desk (see below under

‘getting assistance with MyLO). Both MyLo and e-mail passwords must remain the same. If you are going to change your password, change your email password first.

• When you enter your user name and password, click on OK and choose

“BFA719” from the list of units (subjects) in which you are enrolled. [NOTE:

Another box may periodically appear when using the University network which asks you to verify your user name & password, this is simply a security device – enter your password when asked & click OK].



MyLO will automatically check that your browser is properly configured. If the MyLO ‘browser checker’ window appears – scroll down to make sure you have a tick in each area shown – then close the window.

• From the Unit’s homepage click on the area you wish to access e.g. “Unit

Information”. A table of contents will appear on the left hand side of your screen. Scroll through the list until you find what you want & click the underlined topic.

Computer hardware & software

For MyLO

To access MyLO from your own computer you will need the appropriate software, and hardware to run that software. See Learning Online at http://uconnect.utas.edu.au

for computer software you will need.

Note: Older computers may not have the hardware to run some of the required software applications. Contact your local IT support person or the Service Desk on

6226 1818 if you experience difficulties.

For further information on using MyLo, self help sheets can be accessed at: http://www.utas.edu.au/coursesonline/MyLO-Support.htm

Other Resources:

Whilst there are few texts suitable for a unit such as this, there are several reference sources that will provide useful background information, and the following may be useful:

Relevant issues of the journals:

Accounting Auditing and Accountability Journal

Accounting Forum

Accounting Organisations and Society

Critical Perspectives on Accounting

There are also several recommended sources that provide useful historical information, including:

Brundtland, GH (1987) Our Common Future, World Commission on Environment and Development, Switzerland

Dellaportas, S, Gibson, K, Alagiah, R, Hutchinson, M, Leung, P, and Van Homrigh,

D, (2005) Ethics, Governance and Accountability, Wiley, Milton, Queensland.


Estes, R (1996) Tyranny of the Bottom Line, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, San


Pearce, D Markandya, A and Barbier, EB (1989) Blueprint for a Green Economy,

Earthscan Publications, London

Additional references and resources relevant to unit discussions will be provided by the unit coordinator via the Unit CDs and MyLO.

Details of teaching arrangements

No formal face-to-face classes are scheduled for this unit, but students are strongly encouraged to maintain contact with the unit coordinator and fellow students through

MyLO, e-mail, and telephone. It is expected that students will work consistently through the unit resource CDs, and will participate in MyLO discussions at the appropriate stages of the course. Students may work through the course materials at their own pace, but those joining discussions later than other students are expected to make original contributions that build upon and extend the existing discussions.


Unit schedule












Corporate activity and sustainable development

ƒ The concept of sustainable development

ƒ The origins of the company

ƒ The role of the corporation

ƒ The changing concept of corporate sustainability

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

ƒ The concept of CSR

ƒ Corporate ethics

ƒ Case studies

ƒ Reputation and legitimacy

Accounting and the triple bottom line

ƒ The role of accounting information in society

ƒ Social and environmental accounting

ƒ The triple bottom line – measuring and reporting

Triple bottom line

ƒ Current state of play

ƒ Substance or spin?

ƒ Verification

ƒ Cases and examples

Triple bottom line and the public sector

ƒ The role of the public sector

ƒ Examples of public sector TBL reporting

ƒ The role of the auditor and Auditors General

Ethical and socially responsible investment

ƒ Historical development

ƒ Factors in decision-making

ƒ Performance indicators

Sustainability and corporate governance

ƒ Current status

ƒ Where to from here?


Learning expectations and strategies


The University is committed to high standards of professional conduct in all activities, and holds its commitment and responsibilities to its students as being of paramount importance. Likewise, it holds expectations about the responsibilities students have as they pursue their studies within the special environment of the University.

The University’s Code of Conduct for Teaching and Learning states:

Students are expected to participate actively and positively in the teaching/learning environment. They must strive to maintain steady progress within the subject or unit framework, comply with workload expectations, and submit required work on time.

Learning strategies

Encouraging you to study and learn independently is an important goal of university education. It is a feature of a reflective approach to learning, in which you reflect on what it is you are learning and your learning strategy. Please familiarise yourself with the recommendations in the Guide for Students published by the Faculty of Business and available on the MyLO site for this unit.


Assessment schedule

Assessment task Date due

Assessment Task 1: Assignment 1 Part A –

Short Essay

Midnight Sunday 17 th


Percent weighting


Assessment Task 1: Assignment 1 Part B -

Written Questions

Assessment Task 2: Assignment 2

Midnight Sunday 21 st


Midnight Friday 17 th


Continuous up to Friday

17 th





Assessment Task 3:Online Discussion


Full details of each of the assessment tasks for this unit are provided in the unit CD.

As outlined above, there are three components of the assessment. Assignment 1 is in two parts. Part A is worth 10 per cent and Part B is worth 25 per cent of the total marks for the unit. Assignment 2 is worth 35 per cent of the total marks for the unit.

The assignments should be completed as part of the work for the modules in which they are included. The due dates for assignment submission are above, and you are encouraged to submit your assignments at any time before the due date.

All assessment items must be completed and submitted by the last day of

semester, which is Friday 17 October 2008. No assignment submissions received after 17 October will be accepted for marking in any circumstances, so it is strongly recommended that you aim to submit your assignments early in case unforeseen events, such as computer breakdown, occur.


Assessment task 1: Assignment 1 Part A – 10% - Short Essay

Task description

Task length

Part A is discussed below and further detail included in the materials for Module 3.

Approx 1 000 words

Links to unit’s learning outcomes

Learning outcome 1

Assessment criteria / guidelines

Details included on the Unit CD

Date due

Midnight Sunday 17 th


Assessment task 1: Assignment 1 Part B – 25% - Written Questions

Task description

Task length

Part B is discussed below and further detail included in the materials for Module 6

Approx 2 000 words

Links to unit’s learning outcomes

Learning outcomes 1, 2 & 4

Assessment criteria / guidelines

Details included on the Unit CD

Date due

Midnight Sunday 21 September.


Assessment Task 2: 35% - Assignment 2

Task description

Task length

Assignment 2 is a report on a current issue in corporate. You will have an opportunity to discuss a current event unfolding during this semester. Instructions are included in the materials for Module 8

Details included on the Unit CD

Links to unit’s learning outcomes

Learning outcomes 1 to 4 inclusive

Assessment criteria / guidelines

Details included on the Unit CD

Date due

Midnight Friday, 17 October.

Assessment task 3: – 30% - Online Discussion

Task description

Task length

The final 30% of the marks for assessment will be awarded for your contribution to the MyLO discussion board throughout the unit. It is important, therefore, that you contribute to the discussions for each of your modules.

Details included on the Unit CD

Links to unit’s learning outcomes

Learning outcomes 1 to 4 inclusive

Assessment criteria / guidelines

Details included on the Unit CD

Date due

All discussion is to be completed by no later than midnight

Friday 17 October.

Please contact your lecturer immediately if you have any questions or difficulties with your assessment tasks.


Assignment One Questions:

Assignment 1A

This part of Assignment 1 is worth 10 per cent of the total marks for the unit. It should be submitted to your lecturer as an attachment to an email, and you must ensure that you receive an acknowledgement that it has been received by 2400 hours on 17 August.

You are required to write a short essay of approximately 1,000 words describing the way in which you believe each of the normative ethical theories is likely to provide relevant guidance to an Australian mining company attempting to achieve corporate social responsibility whilst operating in a remote area of a developing nation.

Assignment 1B: Anvil Mining Limited

This assignment is worth 25 per cent of the total marks for the unit. It should be submitted to your lecturer as an attachment to an email, and you must ensure that you receive an acknowledgement that it has been received by midnight

Sunday 21 September.

Your unit CD includes a video clip within Module 6, which concerns Anvil Mining

Company, an Australian company operating overseas with links to the government of the Congo. Please watch the video and submit your written answers to the questions below. You should use information gained within the unit so far (and particularly in

Module 3) to assist you. You should also refer to relevant materials (e.g. library, journals, websites, etc.) in addition to those provided in the course materials.

References to information from Wikipedia are not acceptable as academic references.

Your written answers must be correctly referenced in accordance with the Faculty’s

Guide for Students. The answer to each question should be in correct essay format and should contain an average of 500 words each.


1. Discuss the main ethical issues of the activities of the Anvil Mining Company in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

2. Katumba Mwanke was described as “the government representative on the Board of Anvil Mining”. In terms of good corporate governance, what might be the main advantages and disadvantages of having government representation on the boards of large corporations?

3. In your opinion, is Anvil Mining a good corporate citizen in the Congo? Give reasons for your opinion.

4. Access Anvil Mining’s latest Sustainability Report on its website. Choose a small sample of its contents and discuss them in relation to the propositions of legitimacy theory.


Requests for extensions

Consistent with the Faculty’s policy on late submission, extensions of time will only be granted on medical or compassionate grounds. They will not be granted because of work or other commitments. Requests for extension must be made to the unit coordinator in writing on the School’s Application for Late Submission Form available at http://www.utas.edu.au/accg/studentres.htm

or on MyLO before the due date of the assignment. Medical certificates or other evidence, which supports the application, must be attached and must contain information which justifies the extension sought.


Over-length Work

If you submit over-length work you may be asked to resubmit the work within 48 hours. There will be an automatic 10% penalty of available marks and 10% for each day until the assignment is resubmitted.

Late Submission of Continuous Coursework

Assignments that are not handed in by the agreed completion date will incur a penalty of 10% of the available marks for each day, or part day, the assignment is late, unless an extension has been previously granted.

Review of results and appeals

You may request a formal remark of your original assessment results (in accordance with Rule of Academic Assessment 2, Clause 22.1). Under the Rule of Academic

Assessment 2, clause 23, you may also request a review of your final result in a unit.

For further information see: http://acserv.admin.utas.edu.au/rules/Rule2.doc

Academic referencing

In your written work you will need to support your ideas by referring to scholarly literature, and other sources of information such as regulatory bodies. It is important that you understand how to correctly refer to the work of others and maintain academic integrity. Failure to appropriately acknowledge the ideas of others constitutes academic dishonesty (plagiarism), a matter considered by the University of

Tasmania as a serious offence.

The appropriate referencing style for this unit is the Harvard referencing method. In addition to the Faculty Guide for Students, which is available in the ‘Unit Resources’ section of MyLO, you are encouraged to read Fleet, W, Summers & Smith, B. (2006),

Communication Skills Handbook for Accounting, which provides detailed information about using the Harvard referencing system. Further information on presentation of


assignments, including referencing styles, is available at: http://www.utas.edu.au/library/assist/gpoa/gpoa.html

Please read the following statement on plagiarism. Should you require clarification please contact your unit coordinator.


Plagiarism is a form of cheating. It is taking and using someone else's thoughts, writings or inventions and representing them as your own; for example, using an author's words without putting them in quotation marks and citing the source, using an author's ideas without proper acknowledgment and citation, copying another student's work.

If you have any doubts about how to refer to the work of others in your assignments, please consult your unit co-ordinator for relevant referencing guidelines, and the academic integrity resources on the web at http://www.utas.edu.au/tl/supporting/academicintegrity/index.html


The intentional copying of someone else’s work as one’s own is a serious offence punishable by penalties that may range from a fine or deduction/cancellation of marks and, in the most serious of cases, to exclusion from a unit, a course or the University.

Details of penalties that can be imposed are available in the Ordinance of Student

Discipline – Part 3 Academic Misconduct, see http://www.utas.edu.au/universitycouncil/legislation/

The University and any persons authorised by the University may submit your assessable works to a plagiarism checking service, to obtain a report on possible instances of plagiarism. Assessable works may also be included in a reference database. It is a condition of this arrangement that the original author’s permission is required before a work within the database can be viewed.

For further information on this statement and general referencing guidelines, see http://www.utas.edu.au/plagiarism/ or follow the link under ‘Policy, Procedures and

Feedback’ on the University’s Current Students homepage.

Further information and assistance

If you are experiencing difficulties with your studies or assignments, have personal or life planning issues, disability or illness which may affect your course of study, you are advised to raise these with your unit co-ordinator in the first instance.

There is a range of University-wide support services available to you including

Teaching & Learning, Student Services, and International Services. Please refer to the Current Students homepage at: http://www.utas.edu.au/students/


Should you require assistance in accessing the Library visit their website for more information at http://www.utas.edu.au/library/

If you have a problem…

• of an administrative nature (e.g. enrolment in the unit), contact your unit coordinator

• of an academic nature, please ask questions of your unit co-ordinator

• using MyLO, contact the service desk

Website: http://www.utas.edu.au/servicedesk/student/index.html [email protected]

• in relation to this unit, in the first instance you should discuss the matter with your unit co-ordinator. However, if you do not feel comfortable approaching them, or if you have a discussion with them and are not satisfied with the outcome, then you are encouraged to contact the Ombudsperson listed below, who also teaches in the School of Accounting & Corporate Governance.

Sue Conway

Room D111, Launceston

Ph: (+61 3) 6324 3068 email:[email protected]

Discussions with your ombudsperson will be kept in the strictest confidence. If you wish to pursue the matter further, she will provide advice as to how this can be done.

The University also has formal policies, which can be accessed at: http://www.admin.utas.edu.au/ac_serv/complaints_info.html

Students with Disabilities –University & Faculty Equity Plans

Goal 1 of the University of Tasmania Equity Plan provides for: “An inclusive teaching and learning environment that values diversity, supports the pursuit of academic excellence and produces high quality education and employment results for all students and staff”. The University’s Equity Plan can be accessed at: http://services.admin.utas.edu.au/equity/Equity_Plan/Text/index.htm

The Faculty of Business Equity Plan facilitates the University Plan at an operational level and has developed an ‘Action Plan’. The Action Plan for Goal 1 lays down procedures to ensure that all students, including those with disabilities, have equal access to lecture and course materials. The School of Accounting & Corporate

Governance complies with these procedures.


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