Trois études sur la mesure de la performance des entreprises en matière de développement durable : pouvoir disciplinaire et légitimation
The objective of this dissertation is to examine, under a sociological lens, the new practice of the corporate sustainability performance measurement. This emerging practice seems to be a social space where are structured various games of power, confrontation and resistance of many actors involved in the field of sustainable development. The first paper assumes that discourse analysis, socially constructed and constituted, surrounding measurements produced and disclosed (often highly popularized through the media), plays a fundamental role in the understanding of the practice of corporate sustainability performance measurement. In particular, the discourse transmitted by the sustainability ratings and rankings agencies (SRRA), both on their websites and in their public documents, tends to promote an ideology of numbers that exerts disciplinary power over companies appraised. Despite all the ambiguities and methodological uncertainties associated with the practice of socio-environmental performance measurement, SRRA strive to develop and transmit discourse, quite reductive, to legitimize their claim to expertise in the field. The second paper of this dissertation outlines the legitimation strategies deployed by SRRA and the disciplinary impacts of these strategies on companies scrutinized and stakeholders. Actually, it is the disciplinary power and the normalization power of the ideology of numbers which can induce some effects of self-discipline in the field of sustainable development in general. Such self-discipline is also observed in the academic world when corporate gate-keepers put pressure on researchers to abandon the publication of their research. As a methodological study, the third paper of the dissertation seeks to stimulate reflection on the impediments that the power of the corporate gate-keepers can pose on the independence and the freedom of the researchers and the universities to which they are attached, especially in the case of threats of lawsuits.
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