'As bad as bad can be’: accounting for species extinction in the North Pacific

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Purpose: This paper explores the reporting of the Russian American Company (RAC), from 1840 to 1863. Trading in fur, company fears of animal extinctions viewed from a monetary perspective led to early extinction reporting practice. These were not altruistic reports; they were generated by a wish to use natural resources. Despite the motivations, these reports present an example of successful extinction management by a for-profit company and a workable example of emancipatory extinction accounting.

Design/methodology/approach: Using thematic analysis, this study demonstrates how moving from transparency to accountability driven accounting can assist in biodiversity reporting, by exploring this historical business case of extinction management through the lens of Atkins and Maroun's (2018) extinction framework.

Findings: The application of the framework to the RAC's set of reports indicates that this offers a viable proposal for development of extinction management, providing a reporting tool for a for-profit company.

Originality/value: Exploring RAC's reports focusing on their extinction management processes and reporting, the paper contributes to the contemporary debate on the development of extinction reporting frameworks. These historical examples of extinction accounting, show extinction management and reporting is not a unique contemporary development in accounting. The research uses historical data as the empirical foundation for exploring applicability and further development of this extinction framework.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAccounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Early online date2 May 2023
Publication statusEarly online - 2 May 2023


  • extinction management
  • extinction reporting
  • Russian American Company accounts
  • fur trade
  • integrated reporting

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