Accounting and Finance

Window dressing or genuine concern? Developing a classification system to uncover organisational strategies in sustainability reporting


Dr Ramona Zharfpeykan, Dr Fred Ng
Faculty of Business
Project code: BUS005

Sustainability reports are increasingly important for stakeholder communication. These reports help to guide management attention toward sustainability issues; however, they vary significantly in content. Researchers have proposed a variety of theories about why firms produce sustainability reports; ranging from scepticism of firm intentions, to recognising genuine consideration of environmental and social issues.

To date, these theories have been applied generally and there is limited research into how to classify the sustainability reporting strategies which individual firms actually undertake. The goal of this project is to create a classification system to categorise a firm’s sustainability strategy based on patterns in the content of their sustainability reports. The student will work with the research team to develop different classification approaches and test their statistical and conceptual validity using a global sample of firms. The project also involves textual analysis of sustainability reports to enrich our understanding of the strategies used when reporting.