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Article
Publication date: 9 January 2018

Michaela Maria Schaffhauser-Linzatti and Stefan F. Ossmann

Higher education institutions are regarded as forerunners and pioneers of sustainability. However, it is to question whether they actually fulfill their role model function. This…

Abstract

Purpose

Higher education institutions are regarded as forerunners and pioneers of sustainability. However, it is to question whether they actually fulfill their role model function. This paper aims to reveal whether selected universities in Australia and Austria meet the reporting expectations about their activities on sustainability in very heterogeneous environments.

Design/methodology/approach

Annual reports of selected universities in Australia and Austria are screened by the qualitative text analysis suggested by Mayring to identify their information policy on sustainability. Following the standard definitions, sustainability comprises economic, environmental and social aspects as main categories, which are supplemented further by specifically adapted eight subcategories.

Findings

The results reveal that the universities concentrate on economic information, preferably on accounting, whereas social aspects are of second importance. Environmental activities that essentially shape the image of sustainability for the majority of the stakeholders are mostly unattended.

Research limitations/implications

For further research, the authors suggest analyzing the reports of additional countries to get a bigger picture on the role of sustainability information in university reporting. Possible limitations are because of language use and time requirements, as each report must be encoded manually.

Practical implications

The results reveal the gaps that standard setters should fill by enforcing sustainability content in universities’ reports.

Originality/value

This paper is the first to analyze the annual reports of international universities in respect to sustainability. Hereby, we further fill a gap by applying a qualitative text analysis on the basis of individually derived categories to reveal the sustainability aspects more precisely.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 19 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 20 December 2018

Ralf Isenmann, Remmer Sassen and Walter Leal-Filho

496

Abstract

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 19 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

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