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Environmental accounting and state power in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany (1537-1621)

Bigoni, M., Lazzini, S., Occhipinti, Z., Verona, R. (2023) Environmental accounting and state power in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany (1537-1621). Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, 36 (6). pp. 1503-1528. ISSN 0951-3574. (doi:10.1108/AAAJ-12-2021-5572) (KAR id:98449)


Purpose. The study investigates the use of early forms of environmental accounting in the implementation of environmental strategies in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany between the 16th and 17th centuries.

Design/methodology/approach. The study adopts the Foucauldian concept of raison d’État to shed light on the ways in which environmental accounting practices were used by Tuscan Grand Dukes to form a detailed knowledge of the territory to be governed and act accordingly.

Findings. Financial and non-financial information relating to environmental issues enabled the Grand Dukes to ‘visualise’ the territory to be managed as an enclosed disciplinary space whereby the conduct of people living therein could be decisively influenced. Accounting practices as a tool for the implementation of environmental strategies did not merely aim to protect the environment but were a means to reinforce the power of the State.

Research implications. The paper can inform future works that investigate the ways in which environmental policies and accounting are used to pursue far-reaching governmental goals. It encourages scholars to examine further the origins of environmental accounting and its early forms.

Social implications. The study documents how environmental strategies and the related use of accounting can have a significant influence on how individuals are allowed to conduct themselves. It also shows that environmental accounting practices can be an important tool in a State’s machinery of power.

Originality/value. The study offers a novel perspective on the use of environmental accounting information as a tool in the exercise of State power. It explores explicitly the interrelations between accounting, sustainability and power. It also adds new evidence to historical research that has engaged with early forms of environmental accounting.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1108/AAAJ-12-2021-5572
Additional information: This author accepted manuscript is deposited under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC) licence. This means that anyone may distribute, adapt, and build upon the work for non-commercial purposes, subject to full attribution. If you wish to use this manuscript for commercial purposes, please contact
Uncontrolled keywords: Environmental accounting, Foucault, Raison d’État, Power, Sustainable development.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5601 Accounting
Divisions: Divisions > Kent Business School - Division > Department of Accounting and Finance
Funders: University of Kent (
Depositing User: Michele Bigoni
Date Deposited: 28 Nov 2022 13:00 UTC
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2023 09:24 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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