Corporate Social Responsibility for Employees: Insights Concerning the Underpayment of Wages in Australia
This thesis by publication is an investigation into corporate social responsibility (CSR) towards employees. The first paper is a structured literature review of accounting inquiries into CSR that reveals a significant gap in the research - being wage underpayments in Australia. As a result, this thesis is an in-depth investigation of this important contemporary issue. Using a case study methodology, I investigate two cases of wage underpayment in Australia. The first case covers a conspiracy of wage theft by dozens of small business owners in a university town. Documents and interviews tell of how a group of student workers resisted the wage theft and of accounting's role in the students' movement. I examine the case through the lens of labour process theory that offers a dynamic view of accounting's role at work. The second case focusses on a challenge by two Australian supermarket workers to their employer Coles concerning wage inequality in union-negotiated enterprise bargaining agreements. I use Rancière's concepts of politics and the police to analyse how accounting was used to reveal and rectify underpayments to thousands of workers. By analysing the struggle of these workers to resist problematic business practices and their experiences with accounting, this thesis complements our current understanding of accounting's role in pursuing accountability, especially in the workplace. The overall thesis contributes to understanding how accounting can be both a tool to benefit capitalism and, at the same time, an emancipatory tool to help workers who have been disadvantaged by more powerful economic forces.