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Understanding internal processes for sustainability in retail: Corporate disclosure or concealment?
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Business Studies.
Örebro universitet.
Örebro universitet.
2010 (English)Conference paper (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The retail industry has to conform to norms concerning social and environmental responsibility. For that reason, retail companies engage in processes for increased sustainability. Research indicates that there is a strong presence of communication on sustainability, codes of conduct, sustainability reports, etc. Even though such instruments are numerous, it proves little when it comes to the actual processes for sustainability inside retail firms. The purpose of the paper is to reach a deepened understanding of processes for sustainability in retail firms. The paper is empirical, which means that we focus on how retail firms actually understand and describe their processes for sustainability. Qualitative content analysis is used. Setting out from information on sustainability given in sustainability reports, we apply a framework where we divide the contents of sustainability processes into visions, activities, structures and outputs. Our findings establish that even leading retail firms that devote substantial resources to communication on sustainability issues have difficulties in articulating coherent processes for sustainability. Even though there are exceptions, a fragmented picture of sustainability processes can be found when retail companies talk about their achievements in terms of sustainability. This may imply weak descriptions focusing mainly on visions or objectives for sustainable business without coherent reasoning that ends up in concrete activities or output measures. This can be interpreted as either signs of conscious or unconscious concealment of actual processes or as the lack of genuine processes of this kind. The implications of both alternatives are discussed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. 1-14 p.
Keyword [en]
Retail, Process, Sustainability reporting
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-132141OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-132141DiVA: diva2:357070
Nordic Retail and Wholesale Conference 2010, Gothenburg, 10-11 Nov 2010
Available from: 2010-10-15 Created: 2010-10-15 Last updated: 2012-02-02Bibliographically approved

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