Words not actions! The ideological role of sustainable development reporting
Purpose - Through an analysis of corporate sustainable development reporting, this paper seeks to examine critically language use and other visual (re)presentations of sustainable development within the business context. It aims to provide a framework to interpret and tease out business representations of sustainable development. Such representations are argued to be constitutive of the way that business has come to “know” and “do” sustainable development and, therefore, to constrain and enable particular actions and developments. Design/methodology/approach - The study uses a mix of synthesis, interpretive and discourse analysis to locate, interpret and critically analyse a corpus of written and presentational texts produced by a New Zealand business association and eight of its founding members' early triple bottom line reports. Findings - The business association and its members' reports are shown to present a pragmatic and middle-way discourse on business and the environment. Through the use of rhetorical claims to pragmatism and action, this discourse suggests that businesses are “doing” sustainability. But critical analysis and interpretation within a wider framework reveal a narrow, largely economic and instrumental approach to the natural environment. Originality/value - This paper offers a diagrammatic synthesis of the contested “middle ground” of the sustainable development debate, and thereby provides a frame of reference for further interpretational work on organisations and sustainable development.
Volume (Year): 22 (2009)
Issue (Month): 8 (October)
|Contact details of provider:|| Web page: http://www.emeraldinsight.com|
|Order Information:|| Postal: Emerald Group Publishing, Howard House, Wagon Lane, Bingley, BD16 1WA, UK|
Web: http://emeraldgrouppublishing.com/products/journals/journals.htm?id=aaaj Email:
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Tomkins, Cyril & Groves, Roger, 1983. "The everyday accountant and researching his reality," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 361-374, October.
- Jan Bebbington, 2008. "Corporate social reporting and reputation risk management," Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 21(3), pages 337-361, March.
- Wiseman, Joanne, 1982. "An evaluation of environmental disclosures made in corporate annual reports," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 53-63, January.
- Colby, Michael E., 1991. "Environmental management in development: the evolution of paradigms," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 193-213, September.
- Carol A. Adams, 2008. "A commentary on: corporate social responsibility reporting and reputation risk management," Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 21(3), pages 365-370, March.
- World Commission on Environment and Development,, 1987. "Our Common Future," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780192820808.
- Bill Hopwood & Mary Mellor & Geoff O'Brien, 2005. "Sustainable development: mapping different approaches," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(1), pages 38-52.
- Burchell, Stuart & Clubb, Colin & Hopwood, Anthony G., 1985. "Accounting in its social context: Towards a history of value added in the United Kingdom," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 381-413, October.
- Cooper, David J. & Sherer, Michael J., 1984. "The value of corporate accounting reports: Arguments for a political economy of accounting," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 9(3-4), pages 207-232, October.
- Pushkala Prasad & Michael Elmes, 2005. "In the Name of the Practical: Unearthing the Hegemony of Pragmatics in the Discourse of Environmental Management," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(4), pages 845-867, 06.
- Tomkins, Cyril & Groves, Roger, 1983. ""The everyday accountant and researching his reality": Further thoughts," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 407-415, October.
- Patten, Dennis M., 1991. "Exposure, legitimacy, and social disclosure," Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 297-308.
- Preston, Alistair M. & Young, Joni J., 2000. "Constructing the global corporation and corporate constructions of the global: a picture essay," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 25(4-5), pages 427-449, May.
- Norton, Bryan G., 1989. "Intergenerational equity and environmental decisions: A model using Rawls' veil of ignorance," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(2), pages 137-159, May.
- Tim Newton, 1997. "Green Business: Technicist Kitsch?," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(1), pages 75-98, 01.
- Burchell, Stuart & Clubb, Colin & Hopwood, Anthony & Hughes, John & Nahapiet, Janine, 1980. "The roles of accounting in organizations and society," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 5-27, January.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eme:aaajpp:v:22:y:2009:i:8:p:1211-1257. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Virginia Chapman)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.