Social Contagion and the Institutionalisation of GRI-based Sustainability Reporting Practices

Ameeta Jain, Muhammad Islam* (Corresponding Author), Monica Keneley, Monika Kansal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Purpose: This study investigates the adoption and diffusion of global reporting initiative (GRI)-based sustainability reporting practices within the global financial services sector.
Design/methodology/approach: The approach draws on the sociological construct of social contagion theory to explain the drivers of diffusion of GRI-based sustainability reporting. Based on a longitudinal study of GRI adoption over a period from 2000 to 2016, thematic content analysis of sustainability reports and media articles was used to refine information gathered that related to nature and spread of GRI-based sustainability practices within the global financial services sector.
Findings: This study finds that the early adopters of GRI-based sustainability reporting and the accompanying media attention influenced the institutional diffusion of GRI- based reporting in the financial services sector. This growth was isomorphic as companies copied best practice models to reduce uncertainty and maintain legitimacy.
Originality: This paper focuses on the institutional diffusion of sustainability reporting practices within the global financial sector. It explores the notion of social contagion as an institutional dynamic in order to understand the drivers for the adoption and diffusion of GRI based sustainability reporting across national borders. In doing so, the study contributes to the accounting literature on diffusion of innovations in reporting practice, but also, more generally, to the field of diffusion of new ideas in organisations using the unique approach of social contagion theory.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMeditari Accountancy Research
Early online date10 Jun 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Jun 2021

Keywords

  • GRI
  • corporate social responsibility (CSR)
  • social contagion
  • financial services
  • diffusion
  • reporting innovation
  • sustainability reporting

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