The paper aims to examine the extent to which the genre of the sustainability report has evolved due to the increased emphasis placed on the economic value of addressing environmental and social problems.
Drawing on the concept of genre, this paper compares the most recent sustainability reports of ten global companies to earlier versions of these same companies' sustainability reports.
A concerted effort to define sustainability in terms of economic value is evident in the opening sections and chief executive letters. More recent reports illustrate an increase in efforts to advance the business case for sustainability, including attempts to provide measurable economic outcomes from various sustainable activities and initiatives. In sum, while sustainability reports still convey a company's efforts to comply with environmental and social regulations, sustainability reports are showing an increase in communicating the direct economic benefits that sustainable actions can bring to the company.
The paper provides a new approach, in the form of genre analysis, to the study of sustainability reporting. The findings from this paper suggest further lines of inquiry, including the need to examine the relation between the global reporting initiative and the emphasis on economic value, to explore the intersection of materiality and the shift toward economic value, and to consider the influence of economic pursuits on the public perception and definition of sustainability.
Bowers, T. (2010), "From image to economic value: a genre analysis of sustainability reporting", Corporate Communications: An International Journal, Vol. 15 No. 3, pp. 249-262. https://doi.org/10.1108/13563281011068113Download as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited