The new social audits: accountability, managerial capture or the agenda of social champions?
Drawing upon a series of interviews conducted with leading practitioners and opinion formulators in the social, ethical and environmental audit arena, together with an extensive review of recent literature in the area, this paper offers a critical appraisal of current developments in the newly revitalized social audit movement. We particularly question whether in their enthusiasm for bringing social audit into the mainstream of current business thinking its advocates risk compromising the democratic ideals of the founding fathers of the movement. A particular concern raised is that without real change in corporate governance structures, social audit could become monopolized by consultants and/or corporate management and hence amount to little more than a skilfully controlled public relations exercise.
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