Plenary Lecture

The Emergence of Corporate Sustainability and Its Practical, Educational and Research Implications

Professor Zabihollah (Zabi) Rezaee
The University of Memphis

Abstract: Corporate sustainability is advancing from the greenwashing and branding to, very recently, business imperative as shareholders demand, regulators require, and companies report their sustainability performance. Sustainability has become economic and strategic imperative with potential to create opportunities and risks for businesses. A decade ago less than 50 companies released sustainability reports and now more than 12,000 global public companies disclose their financial economic sustainability performance (ESP), and nonfinancial environmental, social, and governance (ESG) and ethics sustainability performance information.
Primary objectives of this talk are:
1. Examine four themes of corporate sustainability including: the focus on stakeholder aspect, the main objective function of creating shared value for all stakeholders, multidimensional, and time horizons.
2. Discuss all five dimensions of sustainability performance including: economic, governance, social, ethical, and environmental (EGSEE) with a keen focus on economic sustainability performance.
3. Present key performance indicators (KPIs) of five all five EGSEE dimensions of sustainability performance.
4. Present corporate sustainability theories, standards, guidelines and best practices.
5. Examine corporate sustainability risks including: strategic, operation, financial, compliance, and reputation and cybersecurity risks.
6. Address drivers, sources, and international guidelines (GRI, IIRC, SASB) in promoting corporate sustainability.
7. Present research opportunities in corporate sustainability performance, reporting and assurance.
8. Discuss the integration of sustainability education into the accounting and business curricula.
9. Present the status of integrated/sustainability performance reporting and assurance.
10. Explore business sustainability performance, reporting and assurance in Europe.

Brief Biography of the Speaker: Zabihollah Rezaee is the Thompson-Hill Chair of Excellence, PhD coordinator and Professor of Accountancy at the University of Memphis and has served a two-year term on the Standing Advisory Group (SAG) of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB). He received his BS degree from the Iranian Institute of Advanced Accounting, his MBA from Tarleton State University in Texas, and his PhD from the University of Mississippi. Dr. Rezaee holds ten certifications, including Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), Certified Management Accountant (CMA), Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM), Certified Sarbanes-Oxley Professional (CSOXP), Certified Corporate Governance Professional (CGOVP), Certified Governance Risk Compliance Professional (CGRCP), Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) and Certified Risk Management Assurance (CRMA). He served as the 2012-2014 secretary of the Forensic & Investigative Accounting (FIA) Section of the AAA and is currently serving on Auditing Standards Committee of the Auditing Section of the AAA.
Professor Rezaee has published over 215 articles and made more than 225 presentations and 11 book chapters. He has also published ten books: Financial Institutions, Valuations, Mergers, and Acquisitions: The Fair Value Approach; Financial Statement Fraud: Prevention and Detection; U.S. Master Auditing Guide 3rd edition; Audit Committee Oversight Effectiveness Post-Sarbanes-Oxley Act; Corporate Governance Post-Sarbanes-Oxley: Regulations, Requirements, and Integrated Processes; Corporate Governance and Business Ethics and Financial Services Firms: Governance, regulations, Valuations, Mergers and Acquisitions, and contributed to several other books. His two recent books on Corporate Sustainability: Integrating Performance and Reporting, published in November 2012, won the 2013 Axiom Gold Award in the category of Business Ethics and Business Sustainability: Performance, Compliance, Accountability, and Integrated Reporting was published in October 2015 by Greenleaf Publishing. His most recent book on Audit Committee Effectiveness was published in July 2016 in three volumes. Several of these books are translated into other languages including Chinese, Iranian, Korean, and Spanish.

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