Is Sustainability Reporting Becoming Institutionalised? The Role of an Issues-Based Field

Journal of Business Ethics 147 (2):309-326 (2018)
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Abstract

We study companies that do not produce a sustainability report in contexts where institutionalisation is assumed. Based on a careful analysis of interaction patterns between non-reporting companies, sustainability interest groups, and peer organisations, we find patterns of discursive and material isomorphism that suggest sustainability reporting is confined to an issues-based field, rather than spreading as an institutionalised practice across the business community. We argue that the issues-based field exerts only weak pressure for sustainability reporting, and that encouraging more firms to report rests on understanding what influences companies to interact more widely to become part of this field.

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