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Towards Sustaining the Status Quo: Business Talk of Sustainability in Finnish Corporate Disclosures 1987-2005


  • Matias Laine


The paper seeks to shed more light on how businesses have used the language of sustainability in their disclosures. The study employs interpretive textual analysis and takes a closer look at how the corporate talk of sustainability has developed in the disclosures of three major Finnish companies during the period 1987-2005. In-depth understanding is sought by limiting the analysis of disclosures from four anchor points only. The findings indicate major changes in the ways the case corporations have used sustainability-related concepts over the two decades. Over time sustainability seems to have transformed from a possibly revolutionary concept into an evolutionary one, if not to one merely concerned with sustaining of the status quo. Moreover, whereas in the early disclosures the conceptualisation of sustainability appears to be rather polyphonic, in more recent years the companies use fairly similar rhetoric drawing on the discourse of weak sustainability. As a longitudinal study the paper makes a contribution to the still relatively limited body of research deconstructing corporate social and environmental disclosures from an interpretive standpoint. However, the study focuses only on the disclosures of three case companies in one particular country, and thus the generalisation of the findings must be approached with caution.

Suggested Citation

  • Matias Laine, 2010. "Towards Sustaining the Status Quo: Business Talk of Sustainability in Finnish Corporate Disclosures 1987-2005," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(2), pages 247-274.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:euract:v:19:y:2010:i:2:p:247-274
    DOI: 10.1080/09638180903136258

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    Cited by:

    1. Tregidga, Helen & Milne, Markus & Kearins, Kate, 2014. "(Re)presenting ‘sustainable organizations’," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 39(6), pages 477-494.
    2. repec:eee:accfor:v:38:y:2014:i:4:p:258-273 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Cho, Charles H. & Laine, Matias & Roberts, Robin W. & Rodrigue, Michelle, 2015. "Organized hypocrisy, organizational façades, and sustainability reporting," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 78-94.
    4. repec:eee:crpeac:v:24:y:2013:i:4:p:360-378 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:eee:crpeac:v:24:y:2013:i:6:p:459-468 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:eee:accfor:v:35:y:2011:i:4:p:217-231 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Anselm Schneider, 2015. "Reflexivity in Sustainability Accounting and Management: Transcending the Economic Focus of Corporate Sustainability," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 127(3), pages 525-536, March.
    8. repec:eee:accfor:v:36:y:2012:i:3:p:223-230 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. repec:eee:crpeac:v:33:y:2015:i:c:p:5-23 is not listed on IDEAS

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