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Article
Publication date: 9 January 2018

Brenda Scholtz, Andre Calitz and Ross Haupt

Higher education institutions (HEIs) face a number of challenges in effectively managing and reporting on sustainability information, such as siloes of data and a limited…

Abstract

Purpose

Higher education institutions (HEIs) face a number of challenges in effectively managing and reporting on sustainability information, such as siloes of data and a limited distribution of information. Business intelligence (BI) can assist in addressing the challenges faced by organisations. The purpose of this study was to propose a BI framework for strategic sustainability information management (the Sustainable BI Framework) that can be used in HEIs.

Design/methodology/approach

The research applied the design science research methodology whilst using a South African HEI as a case study. The problems with sustainability information management were identified, and a theoretical framework was proposed. In addition, a practical BI software tool was developed as proof of concept to address these problems and to assist with the management of strategic sustainability information in an HEI.

Findings

The proposed sustainability BI tool was evaluated through heuristic and usability evaluations with senior management. The results indicated that the usability of the BI tool was positively rated and that the framework can assist in overcoming the constraints that HEIs face in effectively managing sustainability information.

Research limitations/implications

The research was limited to a single case. However, the theoretical framework was derived from and expanded on existing stakeholder theory, sustainability reporting theory and literature on BI dashboard development. The framework was implemented successfully in the Sustainable BI Tool prototype at the case study, and the results reveal in-depth information regarding information management for sustainability reporting in higher education.

Practical implications

The Sustainable BI Tool is a solution that integrates data from multiple areas of sustainability and provides a single integrated view of the information to stakeholders. The information is provided through performance dashboards, which provide predictive capabilities to enable management to report on sustainability and determine if the institution is meeting its strategic goals. The lessons learnt can also assist other HEIs considering implementing BI for sustainability reporting.

Social implications

Improved sustainability reporting for HEIs provided by the BI framework can improve the environmental and social impact of the educational community.

Originality/value

This study provides the most comprehensive framework for guiding the design of a BI tool to assist in effectively managing sustainability information in HEIs.

Details

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

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Article
Publication date: 21 February 2020

Leaya Amey, Ryan Plummer and Gary Pickering

This study aims to better understand the communication of sustainability by Canadian universities, specifically the use of websites, interactive features and sustainability plans.

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to better understand the communication of sustainability by Canadian universities, specifically the use of websites, interactive features and sustainability plans.

Design/methodology/approach

A total of 95 Canadian universities were included in this study. The mixed-methods approach sought to capture the communication of sustainability via websites, the interactive features used, as well as to evaluate the quality of sustainability plans.

Findings

The study revealed that 67% of universities address sustainability on their websites. On average, universities offer three to four interactive features on their sustainability-related Web pages, and the average score of the quality of campus sustainability plans was 29 (out of 41).

Research limitations/implications

This study does not investigate the extent to which interactive features enhance the involvement and participation in sustainability efforts or the extent to which the sustainability plans were put into practice by universities.

Practical implications

The findings assist with understanding how higher education institutions (HEIs) can enhance their sustainability communication via their websites to encourage interaction and engagement in campus sustainability. The findings can also help universities to enhance the effectiveness of sustainability plans.

Originality/value

To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first research to assess sustainability content and the interactive features on sustainability-related pages of Canadian universities’ websites. The quality of sustainability plans is also evaluated. The study informs the present understanding of communicating sustainability by Canadian universities and provides a basis for future investigations in HEIs in Canada and beyond.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 21 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

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Article
Publication date: 17 December 2019

Muhammad Bilal Farooq and Charl de Villiers

The purpose of this paper is to examine how sustainability assurance providers’ (SAPs) promotion of sustainability assurance influences the scope of engagements, its…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine how sustainability assurance providers’ (SAPs) promotion of sustainability assurance influences the scope of engagements, its implications for professional and managerial capture and the ability of sustainability assurance to promote credible reporting.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors conducted in-depth interviews with sustainability reporting managers (SRMs) and SAPs in Australia and New Zealand, using an institutional work lens to focus the analysis.

Findings

At the start of a new assurance engagement, SAPs offer pre-assurance and flexible assurance scopes, allowing them to recruit clients on narrow-scoped engagements. These narrow-scoped engagements focus on disclosed content and limit SAPs’ ability to add value and enhance credibility. During assurance engagements, SAPs educate managers and encourage changing the norms underlying sustainability reporting. At the end of the assurance engagement, SAPs provide a management report demonstrating added-value of assurance and encouraging clients broader-scoped engagements. However, with each assurance engagement, the recommendations offer diminishing returns, often leading managers to question the value of broad-scoped engagements and to consider narrowing the scope to realize savings. Under these conditions, client pressure (potentially managerial capture) along with practitioners’ desires to grow assurance income (potentially professional capture) can affect SAPs’ independence and the quality of their assurance work.

Practical implications

The study implies that regulation mandating the scope of engagements may be called for.

Originality/value

The authors contribute to the research literature in several ways. First, the findings show how professional and managerial capture occurs before, during and at the end of the assurance process. The authors highlight how perceived value addition from sustainability assurance diminishes over time and how this impacts the scope of engagements (with implications for SAPs independence and the quality of assurance work). The authors show these findings in a table, clarifying the complicated interrelationships. Second, the authors contribute to theory by identifying a new form of institutional work. Third, unlike previous studies focused on SAPs, the authors provide insights from the perspectives of both SAPs and SRMs.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 33 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Book part
Publication date: 22 November 2017

Lichia Yiu and Raymond Saner

Faced with global concerns about increasing vulnerability of the global system and its sustainability, private companies are asked and encouraged to contribute to the…

Abstract

Purpose

Faced with global concerns about increasing vulnerability of the global system and its sustainability, private companies are asked and encouraged to contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through multi-sectoral partnerships. Implementing the SDGs will require coordinated and collective effort by all stakeholders to move the world forward towards a shared vision as set out in the SDG goals and targets. Business diplomats representing the interests of enterprises are crucial to ensure a mutually beneficial participation of business in the implementation of the SDGs. Propositions are made in this chapter to outline the requisite competencies needed to implement business diplomacy both at the organisational and managerial levels in the context of SDGs implementation.

Design/methodology/approach

The method used for this study consists of literature review, conceptual analysis and further development of organisational theory.

Findings

The SDGs in fact mean transforming all countries and actors in all spheres of human existence in an integrated and coherent manner. This transformative journey will not be incremental, but rather disruptive and demands fresh new thinking and smart system redesign. The private sector has been recognised as a leading player in this endeavour that could and should contribute to the success of SDG implementation due to its comparative excellence in process design, management know-how, control of resources and global outreach. To ensure a healthy functioning of diverse formal and informal partnerships, business diplomats will have a central role to play in safeguarding the integrity of multiple interfaces with internal and external multistakeholders. Business diplomacy shall ensure timely consultations and seek feedback from their constituent stakeholders while at the same time doing their best to get their company to contribute to the SDGs.

Originality/value

This is the first article published so far which describes and discusses the role and contribution of business diplomats in the context of SDG implementation.

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Book part
Publication date: 25 October 2017

Ron Sanchez, Jeremy Galbreath and Gavin Nicholson

In this paper we develop a model for researching the influence that a board of directors can have on improving an organization’s sustainability performance. Our model…

Abstract

In this paper we develop a model for researching the influence that a board of directors can have on improving an organization’s sustainability performance. Our model explores sources of cognitive flexibility of boards needed to recognize and respond to the need for improved sustainability performance. We first define concepts of sustainability, sustainability competence, and sustainability performance. We then analyze two forms of board capital (a board’s human capital and its social capital) and three aspects of a board’s information processing (its patterns of information search, discussion and debate, and information absorption) that we suggest affect a board’s cognitive flexibility and thereby influence whether a board decides to adopt sustainability performance goals. Our model also suggests that an organization’s strategic flexibility – as represented by its current endowments of resource flexibilities and coordination flexibilities – will moderate the relationship between a board’s decision to adopt sustainability performance goals and an organization’s subsequent achievement of those goals. We also suggest that our model is generally relevant to any research seeking to predict the influence of boards on strategic change in many forms, not just to research focused on sustainability issues.

Details

Mid-Range Management Theory: Competence Perspectives on Modularity and Dynamic Capabilities
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78714-404-0

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Book part
Publication date: 7 October 2015

Azizah Ahmad

The strategic management literature emphasizes the concept of business intelligence (BI) as an essential competitive tool. Yet the sustainability of the firms’ competitive…

Abstract

The strategic management literature emphasizes the concept of business intelligence (BI) as an essential competitive tool. Yet the sustainability of the firms’ competitive advantage provided by BI capability is not well researched. To fill this gap, this study attempts to develop a model for successful BI deployment and empirically examines the association between BI deployment and sustainable competitive advantage. Taking the telecommunications industry in Malaysia as a case example, the research particularly focuses on the influencing perceptions held by telecommunications decision makers and executives on factors that impact successful BI deployment. The research further investigates the relationship between successful BI deployment and sustainable competitive advantage of the telecommunications organizations. Another important aim of this study is to determine the effect of moderating factors such as organization culture, business strategy, and use of BI tools on BI deployment and the sustainability of firm’s competitive advantage.

This research uses combination of resource-based theory and diffusion of innovation (DOI) theory to examine BI success and its relationship with firm’s sustainability. The research adopts the positivist paradigm and a two-phase sequential mixed method consisting of qualitative and quantitative approaches are employed. A tentative research model is developed first based on extensive literature review. The chapter presents a qualitative field study to fine tune the initial research model. Findings from the qualitative method are also used to develop measures and instruments for the next phase of quantitative method. The study includes a survey study with sample of business analysts and decision makers in telecommunications firms and is analyzed by partial least square-based structural equation modeling.

The findings reveal that some internal resources of the organizations such as BI governance and the perceptions of BI’s characteristics influence the successful deployment of BI. Organizations that practice good BI governance with strong moral and financial support from upper management have an opportunity to realize the dream of having successful BI initiatives in place. The scope of BI governance includes providing sufficient support and commitment in BI funding and implementation, laying out proper BI infrastructure and staffing and establishing a corporate-wide policy and procedures regarding BI. The perceptions about the characteristics of BI such as its relative advantage, complexity, compatibility, and observability are also significant in ensuring BI success. The most important results of this study indicated that with BI successfully deployed, executives would use the knowledge provided for their necessary actions in sustaining the organizations’ competitive advantage in terms of economics, social, and environmental issues.

This study contributes significantly to the existing literature that will assist future BI researchers especially in achieving sustainable competitive advantage. In particular, the model will help practitioners to consider the resources that they are likely to consider when deploying BI. Finally, the applications of this study can be extended through further adaptation in other industries and various geographic contexts.

Details

Sustaining Competitive Advantage Via Business Intelligence, Knowledge Management, and System Dynamics
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78441-764-2

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Article
Publication date: 21 September 2020

Timothy Donnelly and Mark Wickham

While the literature has extolled the desirable outcomes of strategic corporate social responsibility, there is recognised paucity of research concerning its requisite…

Abstract

Purpose

While the literature has extolled the desirable outcomes of strategic corporate social responsibility, there is recognised paucity of research concerning its requisite antecedents. Applying the resource-based view (RBV), this paper aims to address the research question: What are the resources and capabilities associated with strategic CSR activities?

Design/methodology/approach

A qualitative content analysis of B-Corporation certified firms’ annual reports was undertaken to address the research question. Using the global reporting initiative guidelines, the contents of the B-Corporation certified banks were coded against the best-practice CSR benchmarks for economic, social and environmental sustainability reporting. The data were then further scrutinised to detect the resources and capabilities related to the firms’ strategic CSR activities.

Findings

Analysis of the data detected eight resources (i.e. investor funds, customer deposits, knowledge management processes, strategic partnerships, organisational culture, management information systems, market differentiation and supply-chain influence) and nine capabilities underpinning best-practice strategic CSR activities in the finance industry setting. In addition to these, the data indicated: the importance of managing the interdependencies that exist between the resource; the critical nature of knowledge management processes; the importance of supply-chain relationships; and the appropriateness of the RBV in strategic CSR research.

Research limitations/implications

First, the data gathered for this study were from the sample organisations’ annual reports only. Second, this study is based on a small sample size. Third, the qualitative approach supported the generation of results not readily generalisable. Future research should: seek to gather secondary data from a range of organisation publications; collect and analysis primary data; adopt longitudinal research methodologies to explore interactions between combinations of resources and capabilities; adopt quantitative research designs into establish the nature of any causal relationships; could replicate the method adopted in this study into a range of other industry settings.

Practical implications

The findings of this study also suggest three practical implications. First, the interdependent nature of the resources deployed by the sample organisations suggests that the effective management of any one of the sustainability criteria necessitates the effective management of the other two. Second, there appears an opportunity for organisations seeking to improve their sustainability performance to develop a dedicated sustainability information system. Third, the findings in this study demonstrated an emphasis on social sustainability outcomes, which suggests that social sustainability measures are of greater relevance (or a closer “fit”) with what society expects from credit providers in the finance industry.

Originality/value

This paper advances the empirical and theoretical development of the strategic CSR concept by applying the RBV as a lens. This paper contributes a model of the relationship between antecedent resources and capabilities and strategic CSR, and provides guidance on the future application of the RBV in this regard.

Details

Social Responsibility Journal, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1747-1117

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Book part
Publication date: 12 March 2020

Sergio Paternostro

There are still many different theoretical approaches and practical interpretations about what an integrated report is. Starting from this premise, the overall purpose of…

Abstract

There are still many different theoretical approaches and practical interpretations about what an integrated report is. Starting from this premise, the overall purpose of this chapter is to critically analyze the relationship between integrated reporting (IR) and social/sustainability disclosure. Indeed, although some scholars considered IR as a tool to improve the sustainability approach of the companies allowing to disclose more relevant social information, others are more critical about the potentiality of IR to improve social disclosure. Therefore, the general research question is: Is there a natural link between IR and social disclosure (true love) or is the IR a practice to “normalize” the social disclosure and accounting (forced marriage)?

In the attempt to provide a preliminary answer to the research question, the chapter analyzes what is the approach of three categories: (1) academics; (2) soft-regulators; and (3) companies. From the methodological point of view, a mixed method of analysis has been adopted.

From the analysis of the three different points of view, IR can be considered as a “contested concept” because of the heterogeneous and sometimes conflicting interpretations and implementation that are done on this type of report. This leads to relevant theoretical and practical implications.

Details

Non-Financial Disclosure and Integrated Reporting: Practices and Critical Issues
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83867-964-4

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Book part
Publication date: 13 August 2018

Chaminda Wijethilake and Athula Ekanayake

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to develop a framework which sheds new light on how sustainability control systems (SCS) can be used in proactive strategic

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to develop a framework which sheds new light on how sustainability control systems (SCS) can be used in proactive strategic responses to corporate sustainability pressures.

Design/Methodology/Approach – Corporate sustainability pressures are identified using insights from institutional theory and the resource-based view of the firm.

Findings – The paper presents an integrated framework showing the corporate sustainability pressures, proactive strategic responses to these pressures, and how organizations might use SCS in their responses to the corporate sustainability pressures they face.

Practical Implications – The proposed framework shows how organizations can use SCS in proactive strategic responses to corporate sustainability pressures.

Originality/Value – The paper suggests that instead of using traditional financial-oriented management control systems, organizations need more focus on emerging SCS as a means of achieving sustainability objectives. In particular, the paper proposes different SCS tools that can be used in proactive strategic responses to sustainability pressures in terms of (i) specifying and communicating sustainability objectives, (ii) monitoring sustainability performance, and (iii) providing motivation by linking sustainability rewards to performance.

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Article
Publication date: 30 March 2021

Iva Jestratijevic, James Ohisei Uanhoro and Rachel Creighton

The purpose of this quantitative study is to identify disclosure strategies for transparency in sustainability reporting to support strategic thinking around transparency…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this quantitative study is to identify disclosure strategies for transparency in sustainability reporting to support strategic thinking around transparency in the fashion industry. This research has two specific research objectives: to capture progress towards greater transparency across sustainability reporting areas, across fashion brands and years, and to identify strategic approaches for transparency in sustainability reporting by revealing common patterns in business disclosure.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors cross-sectionally analyzed secondary data using four consecutive Fashion Transparency Indices (2017–2020). Brands' strategies for transparency in sustainability reporting were examined through the stakeholder theory lens.

Findings

Findings confirm the presence of four approaches to disclosure: measurable, ambiguous, policy-only and secretive strategy. The disclosure was disproportionally distributed between 30% brands as transparency leaders and 70% brands as transparency laggards. The most transparent brands were not necessarily those rated highest by the index but those whose progress toward transparency was traceable over the years.

Research limitations/implications

The study has overcome the limitation of the verifiability approach, supporting the requirement for diachronic and strategic disclosure assessments.

Practical implications

As most brands hesitantly disclose sustainability information, stakeholders cannot know whether business policies equate to more than a corporate wish list. If there is no inspection for mandatory business disclosure, and if there is no penalty for disclosure violations, some fashion retailers will continue to generate profits while operating in an uncompliant and “opaque” manner.

Originality/value

The framing of disclosure strategies for transparency in sustainability reporting is the first scholarly effort to investigate diachronically sustainability disclosure among a big sample of major fashion brands.

Details

Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management: An International Journal, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1361-2026

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