Sustainability reporting beyond the business case and its impact on sustainability performance: UK evidence



Al-Shaer H & Hussainey K (2022) Sustainability reporting beyond the business case and its impact on sustainability performance: UK evidence. Journal of Environmental Management, 311, Art. No.: 114883.

We explore Landrum and Ohsowski (2018)'s development model, which positions each company's sustainability reporting with multiple worldviews of corporate sustainability. We investigate the impact of sustainability report communicative actions on corporate sustainability performance. We argue that companies that comply with the reporting guidelines and adopt the business case for corporate sustainability may not capture all sustainability aspects, and therefore may not have a real impact on sustainability performance. Employing a computer-based textual analysis on a sample of UK firms that published sustainability reports during the period 2014–2018, we find that sustainability reports that communicate the message that firms understand sustainability to mean maintaining production and consumption patterns within resources capacity of the planet and coexisting in harmony with nature are likely to have a positive effect on sustainability performance. On the other hand, communicating compliance and the business-centred approach as their understanding of sustainability will negatively affect sustainability performance. Our findings offer important implications for companies who need to change their approach towards sustainability reporting and shift from the business case approach to advance to the next stage of sustainability reporting which should guide corporate decisions and actions.

Corporate sustainability worldviews; Sustainability reports; Sustainability performance; Textual analysis

Journal of Environmental Management: Volume 311

FundersNewcastle University
Publication date30/06/2022
Publication date online31/03/2022
Date accepted by journal08/03/2022

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Professor Habiba Al-Shaer

Professor Habiba Al-Shaer

Professor in Accounting, Accounting & Finance