- The purpose of this article is to understand conflicts in sustainability reporting (SR) preparation.
- In the preparation of SRs, the logic of financial rationality is often assumed to take precedence over the logic of sustainability. Based on an explorative qualitative case study of a large Swedish retailer, the paper problematizes this view. Over a reporting cycle, employees and consultants involved in the preparation process are interviewed. Conflicting ideas about SRs are identified and analyzed through the lens of institutional logics.
-The study identifies five tensions in SR preparation. These tensions relate to conflicting ideas of what a SR is, how it should be written, and how it should be used. Among findings, a conflict of logics can be found as the basis of at least one tension. However, tensions may also emerge within a shared sustainability logic.
- A contribution of the study is that it sets its finger on the actual fieldwork with SRs. The study shows that it is unreasonable to claim that SRs are ‘self-evidently’ captured by management according to financial rationality. Possibly, the nature of the studied firm, a company within the pharmaceutical and health sector, implies a stronger sustainability logic than in other firms.
- According to the study, the results of a SR preparation process are highly dependent on the sometimes conflicting ideas of preparers and others within the company. It is of high importance to identify and clarify such conflicting ideas already in the beginning of the process, to link the SR to the CSR strategy of the firm, and to involve top management in the process.
- The study identifies underlying tensions in SR preparation. It also introduces a theoretical framework that makes it possible to analyze tensions in the preparation process.
Sustainability reporting, Conflict, Corporate social responsibility, Institutional logics, Preparer, Tension