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The role of third party assurance of sustainability reports: Incentives and Challenges
Jönköping University, Jönköping International Business School, JIBS, Business Administration.
2017 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Sustainable development
Sustainable Development
Abstract [en]

Background:  Companies responsibilities regarding sustainability issues has drawn significant attention globally recent years due to catastrophes such as pollution and destruction of ozone layer. Out of this, a demand for companies to account for their sustainability performance has dawn, together with an almost concomitant growth in sustainability assurance. Some companies are truly committed to sustainability issues whilst other use sustainability reporting as manipulation and so called “greenwashing”. The role of sustainability assurance of these reports is unclear. Does it function as a legitimizer, a managerial tool and/or a corrector?           

Purpose:    The purpose of this thesis is to investigate what role of third party assurance of sustainability information play, by identifying incentives and challenges. The thesis is written from a Swedish perspective.   

Method:   It is a qualitative research and the data is collected through semi-structured interviews. Interviews was performed with assurance providers, companies with assured sustainability information and companies without sustainability information.    

Conclusion:   The result shows that sustainability assurance is mainly functioning as a managerial tool that aims to improve internal processes, communication and control environment. However, it is associated with difficulties. Moreover, it does not necessarily imply that accountability increases and that the quality and credibility of the report is improved, since the role as corrector is unprioritized and associated with difficulties. A main concern is lack of standardization and laws, and lack of stakeholder inclusiveness in the reporting process and assurance process, referring to a wide range of stakeholders. Instead an important role of sustainability assurance is to legitimize the company as well as the assurer. Lastly, if the company acts sustainable or not is up to the company to decide. One should not expect auditors to prevent scandals or contribute significantly to a more sustainable world. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. , 77 p.
Keyword [en]
Third party assurance, sustainability assurance, assurance, institutional theory, stakeholder theory
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-35690ISRN: JU-IHH-FÖA-2-20170489OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hj-35690DiVA: diva2:1105370
Subject / course
IHH, Business Administration
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2017-06-27 Created: 2017-06-03 Last updated: 2017-06-27Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
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More styles
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  • de-DE
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  • Other locale
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Output format
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