معانی واژه 'توسعه پایدار' در افشای شرکت های بزرگ فنلاندی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|29137||2005||19 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||محاسبه نشده|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Accounting Forum, Volume 29, Issue 4, December 2005, Pages 395–413
There is an on-going discursive struggle over how the social and environmental problems related to modern societies should be understood and resolved. Sustainable development has become a pre-eminent concept in these discussions and businesses are increasingly employing the term in their communications. However, sustainable development means “different things to different people in different contexts” [Bebbington, J. (2001). Sustainable development: A review of the international development, business and accounting literature. Accounting Forum, 25(2), 128–157; see p. 129]. Thus, there have been recent calls in the literature to analyse what the companies are actually saying in their disclosures [Thomson, I., & Bebbington, J. (2005). Social and environmental reporting in the UK: A pedagogic evaluation. Critical Perspectives on Accounting; Kolk, A. (1999). Evaluating corporate environmental reporting. Business Strategy and the Environment, 8, 225–237]. Subscribing to the social construction of reality, this study critically assesses how the term ‘sustainable development’ is constructed in the disclosures of Finnish listed companies. Overall, in the disclosures, sustainable development is constructed as a win-win concept, which allows society to enjoy economic growth, environmental protection and social improvements with no trade-offs or radical restructurings in the social order. However, behind the usual business rhetoric, there is very little evidence of anyone actually walking this talk. Accordingly, this research calls for further discussion on companies’ role in achieving sustainable development and on the business interpretation of sustainable development in general.
The concept of sustainable development has become pre-eminent in the discussions on the relationship between humankind and nature. However, it has often been noted that there appears to be no common understanding either on the definition of sustainable development or on the possible measures needed to be taken in order to achieve it (e.g. Bebbington, 2001; Callens & Tyteca, 1999; Gladwin, Kennelly, & Krause, 1995; Gray & Bebbington, 2001; Hajer, 1997; Islam, Munasinghe, & Clarke, 2003; Lele, 1991; Livesey & Kearins, 2002; Meadowcroft, 2000, Milne, 1996, Reid, 1995 and Robinson, 2004). Although sustainable development also has older roots (Bebbington, 2001; Dixon & Fallon, 1989; Mebratu, 1998), it is usually assumed to have originated in the Brundtland Report Our Common Future by the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development of 1987. In the report, sustainable development was defined as “development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” ( UNWCED, 1987, p. 8). Thereafter, the concept has gained widespread support as an appropriate policy goal for humankind ( Bebbington & Gray, 2001; Hajer, 1997, Meadowcroft, 2000 and Redclift, 1987). There seems to be some kind of consensus that the present way of living is not sustainable (e.g. Ekins, Folke, & de Groot, 2003). Hajer (1997, pp. 13, 14) maintains that “environmental conflict is no longer about whether there is a crisis, it's essentially about its interpretation.” Accordingly, there is an ongoing debate about how seriously unsustainable the current social practices are and what kind of measures should be taken in order to achieve sustainable development. The role of the companies in achieving sustainable development has been a subject of lively discussion over the last decade, and the considerable increase in the quantity of corporate disclosures relating to environmental and social issues is well documented in the literature (Deegan & Rankin, 1996; Gray, Javad, Power, & Sinclair, 2001; Gray, Kouhy, & Lavers, 1995; Gray, Owen, & Adams, 1996). However, there have been recent calls to move beyond descriptive research towards studies which would create a more qualitative understanding of what the reports are actually saying (Kolk, 1999; Thomson & Bebbington, 2005). In another context, Bebbington (2001, p. 129) has noted that the concept of sustainable development has been used to mean “different things to different people in different contexts”. It has also been pointed out that business managers do not have a clear understanding of what sustainable development is about (Bebbington & Thomson, 1996; Gray & Bebbington, 2000; Springett, 2003a). This paper therefore aims to shed more light on how the concept of sustainable development is used in the business context by analysing how it is constructed in the disclosures of Finnish listed companies. This study extends the ideas of Springett, 2003a and Springett, 2003b, Bebbington (2001), Fineman (2001), Gray and Bebbington (2000), and Bebbington and Thomson (1996) by making business actors’ conceptions of sustainable development visible. It seeks to contribute by providing a further understanding of what corporations are actually saying in their disclosures on sustainable development thereby adding to a recent stream of research (Livesey, 2001, Livesey, 2002a and Livesey, 2002b; Livesey & Kearins, 2002; Milne, Kearins, & Walton, 2004; Milne, Tregidga, & Walton, 2004) employing discourse analysis and other interpretive analytical approaches to deconstruct business interpretations of sustainable development. The analysis commences with summaries of earlier literature on the various discourses of sustainable development and of the previous findings of how business conceptualises sustainable development. Next, the approach, method of analysis and the dataset are presented, followed by an analysis of the Finnish disclosures. Finally, the findings are discussed and some concluding remarks are made.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
It can be concluded that the Finnish listed companies employ the rhetoric of weak sustainability in their disclosures related to sustainable development, subsequently reinforcing the societal discourse of ‘business can deliver sustainable development’. The results are similar to those of previous studies seeking to deconstruct business representations of sustainable development (Livesey, 2002a, Livesey, 2002b and Livesey, 2001; Livesey & Kearins, 2002; Milne, Kearins, et al., 2004; Milne, Tregidga, et al., 2004, Springett, 2003a and Springett, 2003b). The study contributes by increasing our understanding of how business interprets sustainable development. This research focused on analysing corporate disclosures on a general level and, therefore, the possibilities of drawing further conclusions are limited. To gain a more detailed understanding of corporate behaviour, researchers should go down to individual companies and analyse their actions in greater detail. Following Springett (2003a) and O’Dwyer (2003) a possible way to approach these issues could be to research the practitioners’ views on sustainable development. It would also be important to analyse the discursive strategies used in the Global Reporting Initiative, which seeks to create universal standards for sustainability reporting. Through increased popularity the initiative could become an important medium of constructing the meaning of sustainable development in society. This study further underscores a statement made by FEE (2001): “Producing a sustainability report does not necessarily imply that the reporting entity is sustainable.” On the whole, there is a lot of talking the talk in the disclosures. Sustainable development will be achieved when business keeps on following the principles of sustainability. They will do so because they are responsible corporate citizens and because sustainable development will bring benefits to all—it is all about win-win. However, there is very little evidence of this talk being walked. And even more essentially, as critics have argued, it is more than a little unclear how far on the sustainability path such a business walk would eventually take us.