The current study analyses the process and internal mechanisms used to develop a sustainability report in an Italian SME, combining action research (AR) with semi-structured interviews and building on Lewin’s theory of Planned Change (mainly AR and the 3-Step Model to organisational change) (e.g. see Burnes, 2004a). The organisation was a willing participant in the case study, similar to that explored by Adams and McNicholas (2007, p. 390). We asked two related research questions: first, what dynamics are involved in the process of adopting sustainability reporting in a SME? Second, what are the consequences of the adoption of the sustainability report? Together the focus on such questions allowed us to simultaneously study the nature of the process as well as its consequences thus offering theoretical insights that could be of interest to both sustainability as well as organisational change scholars. The AR method allowed us to gain an in-depth understanding of the adoption process and follow it longitudinally, and the interviews provided evidence of the consequences of such a process. The current study provides initial insights into the drivers for sustainability reporting, the potential of sustainability reporting to enhance changes within the organisation and the related knowledge created, the process followed by the organisation and the knowledge developed. Overall, it is found that the GRI framework can serve as a tool for alignment with an organisation’s mission in relation to sustainable development, allowing learning and changes, even if the organisation is small. The adoption of sustainability reporting was found to support complementary goals, not just disclosure of sustainability activities. It raised managerial attention for sustainability and helped embed it into managerial thinking, enforcing a long-term perspective, aligning the company to sustainability and supporting social and environmental value creation and disclosure.

Developing a sustainability report in a small to medium enterprise: process and consequences

FARNETI, FEDERICA;
2015

Abstract

The current study analyses the process and internal mechanisms used to develop a sustainability report in an Italian SME, combining action research (AR) with semi-structured interviews and building on Lewin’s theory of Planned Change (mainly AR and the 3-Step Model to organisational change) (e.g. see Burnes, 2004a). The organisation was a willing participant in the case study, similar to that explored by Adams and McNicholas (2007, p. 390). We asked two related research questions: first, what dynamics are involved in the process of adopting sustainability reporting in a SME? Second, what are the consequences of the adoption of the sustainability report? Together the focus on such questions allowed us to simultaneously study the nature of the process as well as its consequences thus offering theoretical insights that could be of interest to both sustainability as well as organisational change scholars. The AR method allowed us to gain an in-depth understanding of the adoption process and follow it longitudinally, and the interviews provided evidence of the consequences of such a process. The current study provides initial insights into the drivers for sustainability reporting, the potential of sustainability reporting to enhance changes within the organisation and the related knowledge created, the process followed by the organisation and the knowledge developed. Overall, it is found that the GRI framework can serve as a tool for alignment with an organisation’s mission in relation to sustainable development, allowing learning and changes, even if the organisation is small. The adoption of sustainability reporting was found to support complementary goals, not just disclosure of sustainability activities. It raised managerial attention for sustainability and helped embed it into managerial thinking, enforcing a long-term perspective, aligning the company to sustainability and supporting social and environmental value creation and disclosure.
MEDITARI ACCOUNTANCY RESEARCH
Lorenzo Massa; Federica Farneti; Beatrice Scappini
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/423368
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