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Book part
Publication date: 30 September 2019

Fatima Alali, Zhou (Daniel) Chen and Yue (Laura) Liu

The study examines sustainability reporting in the government and not-for-profit organizations (GNFPs). Using a descriptive approach, data from the Global Reporting

Abstract

The study examines sustainability reporting in the government and not-for-profit organizations (GNFPs). Using a descriptive approach, data from the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) are utilized to identify GNFP’s sustainability reporting trends and incentives over the period from 2001 to 2016. The study shows improvement in the GNFPs’ sustainability reporting over the analysis period, especially by larger organizations. In specific, results show that the number of GNFPs that reported has increased over the analysis period, and the number of social, economic, and environmental issues that are reported on has also increased although fragmentally across different GNFPs. In addition, a few GNFPs integrate their sustainability report with their financial report or obtain external assurance. The study shows that GNFPs’ sustainability reporting is motivated by meeting stakeholders’ needs and achieving business goals. Based on these findings, the study identifies future reporting opportunities for GNFPs to improve informativeness and reliability of sustainability reporting with the ultimate goals of improving transparency and accountability. The data used in this study capture only the GNFPs that reported or registered in the GRI database. Thus, future studies may use other data sets or conduct field and case analyses to obtain further insights into the process of adopting and reporting on sustainability and the roles that different stakeholders play in pursuing such efforts. In addition, the study identifies other future research opportunities. The study contributes to the extant literature on sustainability and social responsibility during periods of changing regulatory framework in less-researched organizations that contributes significantly to society.

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Research on Professional Responsibility and Ethics in Accounting
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78973-370-9

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Article
Publication date: 14 October 2013

Laura Albareda

This paper presents an analytical framework to understand the complex CSR accountability standard architecture, studying the CSR standardization cycle through the

Abstract

Purpose

This paper presents an analytical framework to understand the complex CSR accountability standard architecture, studying the CSR standardization cycle through the organizational studies perspective. It has two main aims: to discuss the theoretical approach to CSR governance, proposing a matrix to classify international CSR accountability standards; and to study the CSR multi-industry standardization cycle (setting and design, diffusion and implementation), creating an analytical framework to understand the innovative dynamics adopted through CSR standard-setting.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is based on empirical research on global CSR multi-industry standards and the emergence of a regulatory dynamic based on competition-collaboration. The paper's arguments stem from a case study of the Global Reporting Initiative and its inter-linkage and convergence with the UN Global Compact and ISO 26000. The author analyzes this case based on the global governance and institutional dynamics of regulation research.

Findings

Based on the study of CSR standards, the paper presents an analytical framework with various elements to analyze CSR accountability standards: scope, type of actors, performance type and mechanisms and type of legitimacy and monitoring strategies. Second, the paper advances the study of emerging inter-linkages between GRI, UNGC and ISO 26000 and analyzes the emergence of a meta-standardization process generated by the competition-collaboration dynamic.

Research limitations/implications

Further research is needed to focus on the role of agency and different stakeholders on the meta-standardization process. Other research has to focus on the institutional logic and the multi-level analysis of the convergence between CSR standards and the self-regulation advanced process. In this respect, this research serves to demonstrate the leading innovative role adopted by private actors (mostly companies) in developing private standard setting for global governance.

Originality/value

The value of this paper is its analysis of the main convergence dynamic adopted by the most popular, global-scope CSR multi-industry standards, GRI, UNGC and ISO 26000. The findings show how this standardization cycle helps a new collaborative governance dynamic to emerge based on the adoption of private standard-setting. The paper is also useful for practitioners, helping them understand the growing convergence among CSR multi-industry standards, and how the convergence of sustainability reporting processes is advancing towards the integration and drafting of homogeneous guidelines with the prevalence of the GRI model.

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Corporate Governance, vol. 13 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1472-0701

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Book part
Publication date: 10 August 2018

Emily Barman

Over the last several decades, the question of the import of firms’ social and environmental responsibilities has taken center stage. While once companies’ obligations to…

Abstract

Over the last several decades, the question of the import of firms’ social and environmental responsibilities has taken center stage. While once companies’ obligations to stakeholders and to sustainability were framed as normative issues, these criteria are taking on instrumental worth. Most recently, advocates of Responsible Investment have suggested that firms’ environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance possesses critical implications for companies’ creation and capture of long-term economic value. Employing textual analysis, this chapter analyzes the accounting, rating, and reporting standards that have been developed by which companies are expected to measure, communicate, and be evaluated for their ESG performance. Drawing from literature on organizational imprinting, this chapter finds significant differences across these standards, in terms of the determination of materiality and firms’ desired stakeholder relations. The divergence present in the meaning and measure of Responsible Investment across these standards possesses important strategic implications for managers in this field who must consider the implications of each guideline for internal and external purposes.

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Sustainability, Stakeholder Governance, and Corporate Social Responsibility
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78756-316-2

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Article
Publication date: 19 September 2018

James Michael Simmons Jr, Victoria L. Crittenden and Bodo B. Schlegelmilch

Widespread adoption of reporting frameworks has contributed to current global practices undertaken by firms to report social, environmental and economic impact. The Global

Abstract

Purpose

Widespread adoption of reporting frameworks has contributed to current global practices undertaken by firms to report social, environmental and economic impact. The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the most widely used of those frameworks, has produced several generations of guidelines. Their third-generation guidelines (G3), which had the most widespread and long-term use, relied on a series of application levels to convey the quantity and quality of disclosures. The firm’s choice of application level exemplified its corporate social responsibility (CSR) disclosure strategy. The purpose of this study is to answer the call of scholars for a comprehensive explanation of a firm’s CSR disclosure strategy and suggested researching of the conceptual underpinnings of legitimacy, stakeholder, resource dependence and institutional theories.

Design/methodology/approach

Given this call, a comprehensive model is tested that explores relationships arising from these four major theories and the choice of GRI application levels. The model includes four constructs: non-financial corporate characteristics, firm financial performance, stakeholder involvement and environmental turbulence.

Findings

Unexpectedly, the findings do not show differences with respect to the theoretical underpinnings of CSR disclosure and the GRI disclosure levels.

Originality/value

Despite their widespread use, GRI was concerned that the G3’s application levels could be misunderstood and that the framework needed conceptual improvement. These concerns led to the elimination of application levels with the launch of GRI’s fourth-generation guidelines (G4) in 2013. The findings support the need for conceptual improvement and the discontinuation of the application level system in the G4 guidelines. They also suggest the need for additional research to examine disclosure choices over time, to make understand corporate disclosure strategies.

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Social Responsibility Journal, vol. 14 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1747-1117

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Sustainability Disclosure: State of the Art and New Directions
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78560-341-9

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Book part
Publication date: 4 October 2018

Belverd E. Needles, Marian Powers, Mark L. Frigo and Anton Shigaev

This study establishes a baseline evaluation of sustainability reporting (SR) and integrated reporting (IR) practices among groups of companies globally using a combined…

Abstract

This study establishes a baseline evaluation of sustainability reporting (SR) and integrated reporting (IR) practices among groups of companies globally using a combined evaluation matrix. We evaluate a sample of high performance companies (HPC), global reporting initiative (GRI) companies, international integrated reporting committee (IIRC) companies, and a control group of companies that do not belong to any of these groups. We test for high performance and compliance with a 30-point evaluation matrix for financial reporting, corporate governance, integrated disclosure, SR, and assurance developed from the standards set by GRI and IIRC. This chapter provides evidence as to the current IR and SR states, and shows that considerable variation exists even among companies that have pledged to improve reporting in this arena. The analysis also shows that companies that belong to no special group do in fact score on a level that shows that SR and IR standards are being implemented by many companies in the world, not just those in special groups like the HPC, GRI, and IIRC. Finally, this study provides direction for global regulators and professional associations, and to the management of companies that aspire to HPC status while meeting the IR and SR standards.

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Performance Measurement and Management Control: The Relevance of Performance Measurement and Management Control Research
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78756-469-5

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Book part
Publication date: 11 November 2014

Federica Farneti and John Dumay

This article critically reviews the latest Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines and recommended sustainability topics for public agencies, and presents normative…

Abstract

Purpose

This article critically reviews the latest Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines and recommended sustainability topics for public agencies, and presents normative argument by using Gray’s (2006) ecological and eco-justice (EEJ) approach to produce public value inscriptions of sustainability to represent sustainable public value.

Design/methodology/approach

The study presents a critical analysis and discussion of the changes to the GRI G4 and sustainability topics for public agencies from a managerialistic and EEJ approach.

Findings

We observe that the GRI continues to evolve while paying scant attention to furthering the Sector Supplement for Public Sector Agencies as it remains in its pilot form since its inception in 2005. Changes to the GRI are somewhat enlightening because several of the changes do begin to address a more comprehensive view of how any organization, including public agencies, can contribute to an EEJ approach to sustainability.

Practical implications

In the future it is important to be aware that, as inscriptions, the GRI guidelines have the potential power to influence how managers in public agencies approach sustainability. As Dumay, Guthrie, and Farneti (2010) previously argued, if guidelines continue to approach sustainability from a ‘managerialistic’ approach then there is little hope of public sector agencies adopting EEJ practices. We argue that organizations should act referring to Gray’s EEJ approach.

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Public Value Management, Measurement and Reporting
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78441-011-7

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Article
Publication date: 1 December 2006

Geoffrey Turner, Petros Vourvachis and Thérèse Woodward

In the past decade much has been written on the need to develop social, ethical and environmentally responsible performance reporting frameworks that engage with all…

Abstract

In the past decade much has been written on the need to develop social, ethical and environmentally responsible performance reporting frameworks that engage with all organisational stakeholders. The theoretical development of these frameworks has spanned nearly a century culminating in the release in 2000 of voluntary guidelines developed by the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies and the United Nations Environment Programme through the offices of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). The release of the sustainability reporting guidelines perhaps could not have been more inopportune insofar as it coincided with a concerted effort on the part of the accounting regulators toward global harmonisation of financial reporting standards. This paper reports the findings of a survey of Company Secretaries and company provided information examining the extent to which these guidelines have been adopted by the leading public companies in the United Kingdom. The findings suggest limited acceptance and in the resource‐constrained environment of the twenty‐first century business implementation of mandatory requirements are given priority. Further research needs to be conducted to determine whether the GRI has a role to play in future stakeholder engagement.

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Journal of Applied Accounting Research, vol. 8 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0967-5426

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Book part
Publication date: 14 December 2015

James Hazelton

In decades since the Rio Summit, freshwater has become an increasingly prominent issue in the global arena and attention has turned to the role of the corporate sector…

Abstract

In decades since the Rio Summit, freshwater has become an increasingly prominent issue in the global arena and attention has turned to the role of the corporate sector. Various (predominantly voluntary) corporate water accounting standards currently exist, from water-related components in wide-ranging sustainability standards such as the Global Reporting Initiative through to standards specifically focused on water and/or a particular industry. While academic research on adoption of these standards is sparse, initial findings reveal generally poor water reporting in terms of both quality and quantity. In future, the major areas where reporting (and standards) could be improved are the provision of site-level water information and the assessment of water risk throughout the supply chain.

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Sustainability After Rio
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78560-444-7

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Article
Publication date: 12 February 2021

Amr Elalfy, Olaf Weber and Sean Geobey

We investigate the integration of the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)– based reporting thus exploring the…

Abstract

Purpose

We investigate the integration of the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)– based reporting thus exploring the factors that influence the adoption of the SDGs by organizations.

Design/methodology/approach

We analyzed the GRI dataset provided by the GRI data secretariat. We analyzed 14,308 reports provided by 9,397 organizations between 2016 and 2017.

Findings

Larger organizations are more likely to integrate the SDGs into their reporting than smaller organizations. Secondly, publicly listed firms are more likely to address the SDGs. Thirdly, industries with higher sustainability impacts are more likely to address the SDGs in their reporting. Fourthly, our data confirm a regional effect with regard to SDG reporting. Moreover, organizations that follow international sustainability guidelines and standards such as becoming a member of the GRI Gold Community or using the GRI Content Index services and having external assurance are more likely to report on the SDGs.

Research limitations/implications

Corporations play an essential role in the achievement of the SDGs, which shape the future of the world's sustainable development. Nevertheless, SDGs reporting needs more research to analyze the factors that can influence it. The study contributed to the academic literature on CSR and legitimacy theory by analyzing institutional and regional factors that impact SDGs reporting.

Practical implications

The study provides insights about the integration of the SDGs into organizational reporting and accounting, including the adoption of the SDGs by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and the benefits of the SDGs as a framework for strategic corporate sustainability.

Social implications

A global sustainability framework, such as the SDGs can be integrated into organizations sustainability reporting and accounting in a meaningful way.

Originality/value

This is the first study that analyzes the integration of the SDGs into GRI-based reporting. The study contributes to legitimacy theory by highlighting the factors, which contribute to the legitimacy-based adoption of the SDGs, including organizational size, being publicly listed, being from high-impact industries and certain global regions, etc. SDG reporting can help firms increase their organizational legitimacy across their stakeholders.

Details

Journal of Applied Accounting Research, vol. 22 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0967-5426

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