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The sustainable development reporting: a new organizational practice in higher education institutions ?

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  • Stéphanie Chatelain-Ponroy

    ()
    (LIRSA-CRC - Laboratoire Interdisciplinaire de Recherche en Sciences de l'Action - Centre de recherche en comptabilité - Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers (CNAM))

  • Sophie Morin-Delerm

    (LIRSA - Laboratoire Interdisciplinaire de Recherche en Sciences de l'Action - Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers (CNAM))

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    Abstract

    Purpose : The main aim of the present article is to study the adoption and diffusion of a recent practice : sustainable development reporting by (and within) French universities. Theoretical background, approach taken and methods of analysis : To better understand and analyse this organisational practice, we draw on contributions from three complementary theoretical frameworks: (1) stakeholder theory, (2) new institutionalism (DiMaggio & Powell, 1983) and legitimacy theory (Suchman, 1995), and (3) innovation diffusion theory (Rogers, 1962, 1995; Zaltman, Duncan, & Holbeck, 1973). Backed by these three frameworks, two common themes (adaptability and recursivity, Jarzabkowski, 2004) and two dimensions (fidelity and extensiveness (Ansari et al, 2010) allow us to analyze the adoption and diffusion of sustainable development reporting. We have conducted archival search both in the establishments concerned and within their institutional field. Our empirical study is based on a comparative analysis (intergroup, intragroup and longitudinal) of the contents of the sustainable development reporting of pioneer universities. Findings : The "pioneer" universities in terms of sustainable development reporting - consisting of the innovators and early adopters - appear to adopt and diffuse the practice faithfully but on a limited scale. Specifically, we observe that the "innovators" perform better in terms of fidelity than they do in terms of extensiveness. In the same time, the "early adopters" also perform well in fidelity but make less effort in extensiveness. This can probably be explained by the weak political congruence combined with an equally weak cultural congruence between the practice of sustainable development reporting and the universities. Implications : Future research incorporating the study of sustainable development reporting among the "majority" and the "late adopters" should show how these "follower" universities implement this recent organisational practice. Originality/value : To our knowledge, there is very little research that examines the adoption and diffusion of sustainable development reporting by (and within) French universities. Moreover, we have synthesised, for each institution and each period, the data that sum up the practice of sustainable development (extensiveness as well as fidelity) into grids of analysis. These grids, backed on the works of Ansari & al. (2010) and on those of Jarzabkowski (2004), allow comparison but also constitute a tool for analyzing the practice of sustainable development of the next studied institutions.

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    Paper provided by HAL in its series Post-Print with number halshs-00712598.

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    Date of creation: Jul 2012
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    Publication status: Published - Presented, 28th EGOS Colloquium Design !?, 2012, Helsinki, Finland
    Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:halshs-00712598

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    Keywords: organizational practice ; sustainable development (SD) ; reporting ; higher education institution ; university;

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    1. Richardson, Alan J., 1987. "Accounting as a legitimating institution," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 341-355, June.
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