Ethical Issues in the Assurance of Sustainability Reports: Perspectives from Assurance Providers

Journal of Business Ethics 159 (4):1111-1125 (2019)
  Copy   BIBTEX


The objective of this paper is to investigate, through a qualitative study based on 38 semi-structured interviews with agents who provide assurance of sustainability reports, how they perceive and manage ethical issues underlying the verification of sustainability reports. Most of the ethical issues observed involve four interconnected aspects: the commercialism underlying sustainability assurance, the symbolic nature of the verification process, interdependency between auditing and consulting activities, and familiarity with the audited companies. The findings shed light on the reflexivity of assurance providers on these issues and the legitimation strategies used to explain how they reconcile the independence and impartiality required for auditing activities with commercial aspects related to client–provider relationships. The study also shows the role of contextual variables in the ethics of assurance services. The paper contributes to the literature on the legitimacy of sustainability assurance and commercialism of the audit function. Practical implications and avenues for future research are also developed.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,813

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Transparency and Assurance Minding the Credibility Gap.Nicole Dando & Tracey Swift - 2003 - Journal of Business Ethics 44 (2/3):195 - 200.
An Epistemological Corrective to Doctrines of Assurance.Jonathan C. Rutledge - 2017 - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 9 (1):163--177.
Promises beyond assurance.Nicholas Southwood & Daniel Friedrich - 2009 - Philosophical Studies 144 (2):261 - 280.
Assertion and Assurance: Some Empirical Evidence.John Turri - 2015 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 90 (1):214-222.


Added to PP

34 (#482,740)

6 months
16 (#172,611)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?