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Sustainability reporting experience by universities: a causal configuration approach

Ana Zorio-Grima (Department of Accounting, Faculty of Economics, University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain)
Laura Sierra-García (Department of Financial Economics and Accounting, Pablo de Olavide University, Sevilla, Spain)
Maria A. Garcia-Benau (Department of Accounting, Faculty of Economics, University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Article publication date: 12 December 2017

Issue publication date: 18 January 2018

940

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this research is to identify the combinations of factors leading to experience in sustainability reporting by Spanish public universities.

Design/methodology/approach

Using a sample of 49 public universities in Spain, this paper identifies the combinations of factors on innovation profile, political and internal factors that explain the different degree of corporate social reporting experience with fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis.

Findings

The study’s findings are a contribution to existing literature as the results obtained point out three different configurations leading to this expertise, with a combination of different conditions based on innovation profile, political and internal factors. Also, the results reveal new characteristics of sustainable development strategies by universities, such as devoting a specific sustainability reporting section in the university website, creating a sustainability body in the university structure or submitting the sustainability report to external assurance.

Research limitations/implications

This study refers only to Spanish public universities. In the future, new studies can enlarge the sample and analyse country effects and impact of public versus private status of universities on sustainability reporting strategies.

Practical implications

The study’s findings are important for university community, regulators and other stakeholders to start considering the need to somehow promote further sustainability reporting and assurance practices by universities, especially in a context of budget restrictions.

Originality/value

This paper opens up a new line of research on sustainability experience using an innovative methodology (fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis) useful with small sample sizes, and provides a complete picture of sustainability reporting by Spanish public universities.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support from the University of Valencia (UV-SFPIE_GER16-415408).

Citation

Zorio-Grima, A., Sierra-García, L. and Garcia-Benau, M.A. (2018), "Sustainability reporting experience by universities: a causal configuration approach", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 19 No. 2, pp. 337-352. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-07-2016-0142

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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