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Reasons for sustainability reporting by New Zealand local governments

Amber Bellringer (Deloitte, Wellington, New Zealand)
Amanda Ball (Department of Accounting and Information Systems, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand)
Russell Craig (Department of Accounting and Information Systems, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand)

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal

ISSN: 2040-8021

Article publication date: 30 August 2011

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to draw on the New Zealand context to provide extensions and comparative insights to prior research that has canvassed the reasons for sustainability reporting by local governments. A base is provided from which more extensive and theoretically grounded research can proceed.

Design/methodology/approach

Semi‐structured exploratory interviews were conducted in mid‐2009 in each of five local government councils in New Zealand with the person responsible for preparing the sustainability report.

Findings

Local governments in New Zealand were prompted to engage in sustainability reporting for reasons of leadership, accountability, and financial incentive; and by a need to bolster important internal stakeholders. Sustainability reporting by local governments in New Zealand does not appear to be motivated strongly by an idealistic desire to ensure a sustainable world, but more by pragmatism and economic rationalism.

Originality/value

New Zealand provides a unique setting in which to explore why local governments prepare sustainability reports. New Zealand has a statutory requirement for local governments to adopt a principles‐based approach to sustainable development. Additionally, public relations crisis management theory is drawn upon to provide some fresh perspective on reasons for sustainability reporting.

Keywords

Citation

Bellringer, A., Ball, A. and Craig, R. (2011), "Reasons for sustainability reporting by New Zealand local governments", Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 126-138. https://doi.org/10.1108/20408021111162155

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited