Theorizing in the extant sustainability assurance literature is limited. This paper aims to identify apposite organizational theories from related fields which scholars could apply to sustainability assurance research. Through the introduction of theoretical perspectives new to the field, the authors seek to extend current research.
A literature review was undertaken and papers using theory to examine research questions concerned with sustainability assurance and business sustainability issues more broadly were categorized by theory and sub area of focus. The authors then considered how organizational theories used in other areas of business sustainability research might augment the current paucity of theorizing applied in sustainability assurance research, thereby opening up new research possibilities.
The review identified gaps in current theorizing in sustainability assurance research and theoretical frameworks which have the potential to augment research avenues in sustainability assurance, enhance the way researchers interpret their data and increase the understanding of sustainability assurance decisions.
Innovation in sustainability assurance research may lead to developments in sustainability assurance practice, which enhances the credibility of sustainability reports. It will inform ongoing debate regarding whether sustainability assurance should be mandatory, whether a specific reporting format and level of assurance should be prescribed, how the practice can be developed and whether alternatives to enhancing the credibility of sustainability reports need to be found.
Enhanced theorizing may shed light on whether sustainability assurance enhances the credibility of sustainability disclosures and whether it leads, or fails to lead, to real improvements in preparers' sustainability-related practices.
By identifying theories which could be applied to sustainability assurance research, this paper facilitates the development of new avenues of research and new ways of interpreting data from the field.
Tyson, T. and Adams, C. (2019), "Increasing the scope of assurance research: new lines of inquiry and novel theoretical perspectives", Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 291-316. https://doi.org/10.1108/SAMPJ-03-2018-0067Download as .RIS
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