Environmental reporting through an ethical looking glass

Morrison, L, Wilmshurst, T and Shimeld, S 2018, 'Environmental reporting through an ethical looking glass', Journal of Business Ethics, vol. 150, no. 4, pp. 903-918.


Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

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Title Environmental reporting through an ethical looking glass
Author(s) Morrison, L
Wilmshurst, T
Shimeld, S
Year 2018
Journal name Journal of Business Ethics
Volume number 150
Issue number 4
Start page 903
End page 918
Total pages 16
Publisher Springer
Abstract 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.
Subject Business and Management not elsewhere classified
Applied Ethics not elsewhere classified
Keyword(s) Deep ecology
Deontology
Discourse analysis
Environmental ethics
Environmental reporting
Expectations gap
Stakeholder engagement
Sustainability
Utilitarianism
Virtue ethics
DOI - identifier 10.1007/s10551-016-3136-4
Copyright notice © Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016
ISSN 0167-4544
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