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Characteristics of UK higher education institutions that disclose sustainability reports

Remmer Sassen (Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany)
Dominik Dienes (Hamburg Business School, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany)
Johanna Wedemeier (Hamburg Business School, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Article publication date: 11 October 2018

Issue publication date: 7 December 2018

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to focus on the following research question: Which institutional characteristics are associated with sustainability reporting by UK higher education institutions?

Design/methodology/approach

To answer the aforementioned research question, this study uses logistic regression.

Findings

The results show that 17 per cent of the UK higher education institutions report on their sustainability (July 2014). In line with legitimacy and stakeholder theory, logistic regressions provide evidence that the larger the size of the institution, the higher the probability of reporting. By contrast, high public funding decreases this probability.

Research limitations/implications

The findings show characteristics of higher education institutions that support or hamper sustainability reporting. Overall, the findings imply a lack of institutionalisation of sustainability reporting among higher education institutions.

Originality/value

Although a lot of research has been done on corporate sustainability reporting, only a small number of studies have addressed the issues of sustainability reporting of higher education institutions. This study covers all sustainability reports disclosed among the 160 UK higher education institutions. It is the first study that investigates characteristics of higher education institutions that disclose a sustainability report.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful to Leyla Azizi, Inga Hardeck, Anastasiia Barabash, Aytan Guluzade and the session participants at the EURAM Public and Non-Profit Management Strategic Interest Group Mini-Conference on Corporate Governance, Accounting and Accountability of State-Owned Enterprises and Agencies: Taking Stock and Next Steps in Theory and Practice (Leipzig, 19-20 February 2015), at the Financial Reporting and Business Communication Research Unit: 19th Annual Conference (Bristol, 2-3 July 2015) 79 and at the Wissenschaftliche Jahrestagung des Verbandes der Hochschullehrer für Betriebswirtschaft (VHB) (St. Gallen, 7-9 June 2017 for their helpful comments and suggestions.

Citation

Sassen, R., Dienes, D. and Wedemeier, J. (2018), "Characteristics of UK higher education institutions that disclose sustainability reports", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 19 No. 7, pp. 1279-1298. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-03-2018-0042

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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