Path dependence and path creation: Framing the extra-financial information market for a sustainable trajectory
Purpose – This paper aims to analyze so-called sustainability, corporate social responsibility or citizenship reports, as artefacts of a compromise between an institutional entrepreneur (IE), the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), and companies. Some companies take on this invitation but to which extent the information they produce as a result corresponds to the ideal promoted by the IE? Design/methodology/approach – A sample of ten reports from Canadian companies were analyzed using a combination of deductive and inductive coding techniques. The discourse and pictures were analyzed to identify whether they represent path creation (adherence to the sustainability ideal) or path dependence (the expression of traditional business interests and practices). Findings – The study findings show that companies adopt the sustainability reporting guideline and ideal promoted by IE, but only partially. Path dependence and path creation are in tension, a condition typical of innovative processes according to the actor network theory (ANT) framework. It suggests that the market for sustainability information is under construction. Originality/value – The value of the paper is that it examines voluntary disclosure of social and environmental performance by companies, using the notion of IE from the neo-institutionalist theory, as well as the innovation model from the ANT. The originality of the paper also lies in its methodology – particularly the use of a mixed method—including the composition of “poems” with “verses” extracted from the corporate reports.
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Volume (Year): 22 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (February)
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