This review aims to summarize the extent to which sustainability dimensions are covered in the selected qualitative literature, the theoretical and ontological underpinnings that have informed sustainability research and the qualitative methodologies used in that literature.
This study uses a systematic review to examine prior empirical studies in sustainability reporting between 2000 and 2021.
This review contributes to sustainability research by identifying unexplored and underexplored areas for future studies, such as Indigenous people’s rights, employee health and safety practice, product responsibility, gender and leadership diversity. Institutional and stakeholder theories are widely used in the selected literature, whereas moral legitimacy remains underexplored. The authors suggest that ethnographic and historical research will increase the richness of academic research findings on sustainability reporting.
This review is limited to qualitative studies only because its richness allows researchers to apply various methodological and theoretical approaches to understand engagement in sustainability reporting practice.
This review follows a novel approach of bringing the selected studies’ scopes, theories and methodologies together. This approach permits researchers to formulate a research question coherently using a logical framework for a research problem.
Initial versions of this paper were presented at the Center for Social and Environmental Accounting (North America) Conference 2018 and ASAC 2018’s Annual Conference, organized by Ryerson University, Canada. The authors acknowledge with thanks the comments made by the conference participants.
Nasreen, T., Baker, R. and Rezania, D. (2023), "Sustainability reporting – a systematic review of various dimensions, theoretical and methodological underpinnings", Journal of Financial Reporting and Accounting, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/JFRA-01-2022-0029
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