Corporate sustainability reporting and information infrastructure

Indrit Troshani*, Nick Rowbottom

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Purpose: Information infrastructures can enable or constrain how companies pursue their visions of sustainability reporting and help address the urgent need to understand how corporate activity affects sustainability outcomes and how socio-ecological challenges affect corporate activity. We examine the relationship between sustainability reporting information infrastructures and sustainability reporting practice.

Design/methodology/approach: We mobilise a sociotechnical perspective and the conception of infrastructure, the socio-technical arrangement of technical artifacts and social routines, to engage with a qualitative dataset comprised of interview and documentary evidence on the development and construction of sustainability reporting information.

Findings: We detail how sustainability reporting information infrastructures are used by companies and depict the difficulties faced in generating reliable sustainability data. We illustrate the challenges and measures undertaken by entities to embed automation and integration, and to enhance sustainability data quality. The findings provide insight into how infrastructures constrain and support sustainability reporting practices.

Originality/value: We explain how infrastructures shape sustainability reporting practices, and how infrastructures are shaped by regulatory demands and costs. Companies have developed ‘uneven’ infrastructures supporting legislative requirements, whilst infrastructures supporting non-legislative sustainability reporting remain underdeveloped. Consequently, infrastructures supporting specific legislation have developed along unitary pathways and are often poorly integrated with infrastructures supporting other sustainability reporting areas. Infrastructures developed around legislative requirements are not necessarily constrained by financial reporting norms and do not preclude specific sustainability reporting visions. On the contrary, due to regulation, infrastructure supporting disclosures that offer an ‘inside out’ perspective on sustainability reporting is often comparatively well developed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1209-1237
Number of pages29
JournalAccounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Volume37
Issue number4
Early online date13 Dec 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2024

Keywords

  • sustainability reporting, information infrastructure, artifact, routine, sociomateriality

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