The aim of this study is to shed light on the mechanisms involved in, and consequences of, developing a sustainability report in a small to medium enterprise.
Action research is used to provide insights into the initial stages of the development of the sustainability report and its consequences. “Mike” is an Italian small organisation with a sustainability orientation selling products and services about wellness and health. It decided to develop a sustainability report in 2013.
The authors find that the organisation’s initial aim to report on its sustainability later extended beyond disclosure to using the information to enhance its sustainable development approach and awareness, consider long-term planning, support strategy-making based on the sustainable development concept and establish and enhance its reputation.
This research is limited to the analysis of only one small Italian organisation and as such cannot claim generalisability of its findings.
The findings indicate that the sustainability initiative of this organisation, while originally focussed on reporting, evolved into strategy and planning. Managers in similar organisations may learn from this experience to focus on strategy-making and social and environmental value creation.
The study examines sustainability reporting in the previously overlooked area of small and medium enterprises.
The authors would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers for their helpful advice, the participants at the Meditari Accountancy Research (2014) Conference and the discussant of the paper Marna de Klerk for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper. They also acknowledge the valuable feedback from Professor Gianni Lorenzoni, Professor Maurizio Zollo and the GOLDEN for Sustainability community and Fiona Crawford from the Editorial Collective for her editing. Lorenzo Massa gratefully acknowledges generous financial support from the Swiss National Science Foundation, Fonds Nationale Suisse de la Recherche Scientifique (Grant CRSII1_147666/1).
Massa, L., Farneti, F. and Scappini, B. (2015), "Developing a sustainability report in a small to medium enterprise: process and consequences", Meditari Accountancy Research, Vol. 23 No. 1, pp. 62-91. https://doi.org/10.1108/MEDAR-02-2014-0030Download as .RIS
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