Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 32601
A Content Analysis of Sustainability Reporting to Frame the Heterogeneity in Corporate Environment Sustainability Practices

Authors: Venkataraman Sankaranarayanan, Sougata Ray


While extant research has examined many aspects of differential corporate environmental outcomes and behavior, a holistic and integrated view of heterogeneity in corporate environment sustainability (CES) practices remains a puzzle to be fully unraveled – its extent and nature, its relationship to macro or micro level influences, or strategic orientations. Such a perspective would be meaningful for the field given notable strides in CES practices and the corporate social responsibility agenda over the last two decades, in the backdrop of altered global socio-political sensitivities and technological advances. To partly address this gap, this exploratory research adopted a content analysis approach to code patterns in the sustainability disclosures of the 160 largest global firms spread over 8 years. The sample of firms spanned seven industries, nine countries and three continents thereby presenting data rich and diverse enough in several dimensions to be representative of global heterogeneity in CES practices. Through a factor analysis of the coded data, four strategic CES orientations were extracted through the analysis, that effectively straddles most of the variation observed in current CES practices – one that seeks to reduce environmental damage on account of the firm’s operations, another that prioritizes minimalism, a third that focuses on broader ecological status quo, and a final one that champions the ‘business of green’, extending the CES agenda beyond the firm’s boundaries. These environment sustainability strategy orientations are further examined to elicit prominent patterns and explore plausible antecedents.

Keywords: Corporate sustainability, corporate social responsibility, corporate environmental management, environmental strategy.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI):

Procedia APA BibTeX Chicago EndNote Harvard JSON MLA RIS XML ISO 690 PDF Downloads 1390


[1] P. Bansal and J. Gao (2006). Building The Future By Looking To The Past: Examining Research Published on Organizations and Environment. Organization & Environment. 19: 458.
[2] J. A. Aragon-Correa, & S.Sharma (2003).A Contingent Resource-Based View of Proactive Corporate Environmental Strategy. Academy of Management Review. 28 (1).
[3] P. Bansal (2005). Evolving Sustainably: A longitudinal study of corporate sustainable development. Strategic Management Journal (26)
[4] S. Sharma (2000). Managerial interpretations and organizational context as predictors of corporate choice of environmental strategy. Academy of Management Journal, 43(4).
[5] M. Delmas & M. Toffel (2010). Institutional Pressures and Organizational Characteristics: Implications for Environmental Strategy. Working Paper. Harvard Business School
[6] L. Berchicci, & A. King (2007). 11 Postcards from the Edge: A Review of the Business and Environment Literature. The Academy of Management Annals,1(1), 513-547.
[7] S. L. Hart (1995).A natural resource-based view of the firm. Academy of Management Review. 20(4).
[8] S. L. Hart. S.L & G. Dowell (2011). A Natural-Resource-Based View of the Firm: Fifteen Years After. Journal of Management. (37).
[9] L.F. Escobar, H. Vredenburg, H. (2011). Multinational oil companies and the adoption of sustainable development: A resource-based and institutional theory interpretation of adoption heterogeneity. Journal of Business Ethics, 98(1), 39-65.
[10] M. V. Russo. The emergence of sustainable industries. Strategic Management Journal. (24).
[11] S. Sharma and I. Henriques (2005). Stakeholder influences of sustainability practices in the Canadian forest products industry. Strategic Management Journal. (26).
[12] B. W. Lewis, J.L. Walls, & G.W. Dowell, G. W. (2014). Difference in degrees: CEO characteristics and firm environmental disclosure. Strategic Management Journal, 35(5).
[13] A. Locket, J.Moon, & W. Visser (2006). Corporate Social responsibility in Management Research: Focus, nature, salience and sources of influence. Journal of Management Studies, 43(1): 115-136.
[14] R. E. Lofstedt, D. Vogel, Renn S, O., D.Slater, M.D. Rogers, M. D. (2001). The changing character of regulation: A comparison of Europe and the United States. Risk Analysis, 21(3), 399-416.
[15] E. Rosenthal (2014). What makes Europe greener than the US. By Elisabeth Rosenthal: Yale Environment, 360.