Climate change and solutions to solving this wicked problem require a mixed methods research approach that draws on quantitative and qualitative inquiry together. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate the applicability (and effectiveness) of a mixed methods approach applied to research into the voluntary carbon market (VCM), a key path available for organisations electing to offset their carbon emissions, in New Zealand. The mixed methods approach included three unique data sets (quantitative documents, quantitative surveys, qualitative in-depth interviews), and was both explanatory (qualitative interviews built upon and contextualized the document analysis and survey results) and convergent (data sets were examined separately, then, as they represent different aspects of the same phenomenon, were combined for analysis). These complementary methods were used to gain a fuller picture of the evolution and institutional dynamics of the VCM field in order to produce a comprehensive case study.


Document Analysis, Survey Analysis, Interview Analysis, New Zealand, Voluntary Carbon Market

Author Bio(s)

Prior to joining the Planning Program, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Alberta, S. Jeff Birchall lectured in the School of Urban and Regional Planning, Ryerson University, and prior to that in the College of Business and Economics, University of Canterbury, where he completed his PhD and was the recipient of the prestigious Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden Scholarship. Jeff’s research is organized around two related themes: (a) drivers and strategies for organization action on carbon management, which explores corporate willingness and ability to reorient commitment and behaviour towards fundamental transformation of society, policy and the economy; and (b) resilient cities and communities, which explores how cities and communities confront climate change and adapt to the emerging challenges imposed on them due to an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: S. Jeff Birchall at Email: jeff.birchall@ualberta.ca.

Prior to commencing PhD studies as a Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden Scholar in Accounting and Information Systems at the University of Canterbury, Maya Murphy held positions with Environment Canada, the National Research Council and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. Maya also holds qualifications from the University of Ottawa in Biochemistry - Biotechnology (B.Sc. Honours) and Chemical Engineering - Biotechnology (B.A. Sc.).

In the late 1980s after postgraduate studies at the University of Lancaster, Markus Milne emigrated to work at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. Previously Professor of Accounting at Otago, he moved to the University of Canterbury in 2006. Markus studied accounting and finance at both Middlesex and at Lancaster. Driven by a boyhood love of the outdoors, nature, and a sense of justice, over the past 25 years he has developed a critical research agenda investigating the social and environmental impacts of organisations, and the means by which they account for and communicate those impacts. Since his first publication in 1991 in a special issue on “Green Accounting,” Markus has sought to understand and critique modern organisations' relationships with the natural environment. He has published over 80 papers and book chapters, and his work is widely cited in the field.


This work was supported by the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Marsden Fund [08-UOC-025].

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