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Environmental reporting through an ethical looking glass


Morrison, L and Wilmshurst, T and Shimeld, S, Environmental reporting through an ethical looking glass, Journal of Business Ethics pp. 1-16. ISSN 0167-4544 (2016) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

DOI: doi:10.1007/s10551-016-3136-4


This paper adopts the lens of environmental ethics to explore whether there is a disparity between the ethical approaches of a company in comparison to those expressed by stakeholders in relation to environmental issues, specifically those communicated through the corporate environmental report. Discourse analysis is adopted to explore the environmental section of the sustainability reports of the case study company as compared to the responses of a sample of the company’s stakeholders, using the lens of three branches of environmental ethics: utilitarianism, deontology and virtue ethics. Results indicate that the ethical approaches expressed in the case study company’s environmental reports were grounded in utilitarianism and deontology, in contrast to a virtue ethics approach expressed by external stakeholders. The disparity widened as the relationship between the company and the stakeholder became less direct. This disparity signals a failure to meet one of the primary purposes for preparing sustainability reports: to engage with stakeholders. As such this research contributes to the literature by identifying a disparity in the how this information is communicated compared with how it is perceived by stakeholders. This has important implications for the success of current stakeholder engagement practices.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Economics
Research Group:Economic theory
Research Field:Economic theory not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Economic Framework
Objective Group:Management and productivity
Objective Field:Management and productivity not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Morrison, L (Dr Leanne Morrison)
UTAS Author:Wilmshurst, T (Associate Professor Trevor Wilmshurst)
UTAS Author:Shimeld, S (Dr Sonia Shimeld)
ID Code:109308
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:9
Deposited By:TSBE
Deposited On:2016-06-07
Last Modified:2021-07-05

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