Purpose: This paper aims to explore why a company voluntarily engages in the sustainability reporting process, how this process becomes institutionalised and the resulting effects. Design/methodology/approach: The research focusses on a single case study, conducted following an action research approach and interpreted through the lens of institutional work. According to the institutional work theoretical perspective, the individual or organisation is responsible for creating, maintaining or disrupting institutions. Findings: The case company, Deco S.p.A., undertook sustainability reporting to clarify the values that the company was founded upon and how those values translate into management practice. By institutionalising the sustainability reporting process, Deco S.p.A. found its corporate climate improved, various aspects of its operations could be rationalised and the information gathered to produce the report was valuable for decision support. Practical implications: This research project contributes to understanding why and how a company institutionalises its sustainability reporting. It also provides a better understanding of the internal forces that drive the voluntary reporting of sustainability issues and sheds light on the stages of the institutionalisation process. Social implications: The authors find that universities have a role to play in promoting the sustainability of companies, as they can transform the knowledge produced from research into useful knowledge for managing and reporting sustainability issues. Originality/value: This four-year action research project contributes to the literature on both engagement research and the institutionalisation of sustainability reporting practices. The authors also expose some of the drivers affecting a company’s approach to sustainability reporting.

The institutionalisation of sustainability reporting in management practice: evidence through action research

Tarquinio L.
;
Xhindole C.
2021-01-01

Abstract

Purpose: This paper aims to explore why a company voluntarily engages in the sustainability reporting process, how this process becomes institutionalised and the resulting effects. Design/methodology/approach: The research focusses on a single case study, conducted following an action research approach and interpreted through the lens of institutional work. According to the institutional work theoretical perspective, the individual or organisation is responsible for creating, maintaining or disrupting institutions. Findings: The case company, Deco S.p.A., undertook sustainability reporting to clarify the values that the company was founded upon and how those values translate into management practice. By institutionalising the sustainability reporting process, Deco S.p.A. found its corporate climate improved, various aspects of its operations could be rationalised and the information gathered to produce the report was valuable for decision support. Practical implications: This research project contributes to understanding why and how a company institutionalises its sustainability reporting. It also provides a better understanding of the internal forces that drive the voluntary reporting of sustainability issues and sheds light on the stages of the institutionalisation process. Social implications: The authors find that universities have a role to play in promoting the sustainability of companies, as they can transform the knowledge produced from research into useful knowledge for managing and reporting sustainability issues. Originality/value: This four-year action research project contributes to the literature on both engagement research and the institutionalisation of sustainability reporting practices. The authors also expose some of the drivers affecting a company’s approach to sustainability reporting.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11564/765029
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