Change search
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • apa.csl
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf
Legitimacy strategies in sustainability reporting: A study of negative disclosure strategies' impact on stakeholders
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Karlstad Business School (from 2013).
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Karlstad Business School (from 2013).
2023 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 80 credits / 120 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Sustainability reports should provide a balanced picture of a company’s sustainability aspects, but because of its voluntary nature, overly positive aspects are often presented (Holder-Webb et al., 2009; Lougee & Wallace, 2008). Though, negative disclosure may also be released as it could improve transparency, enhance trust, and decrease the risk of green or whitewashing tendencies (Hahn & Lüfs, 2014, Hahn & Reimsbach, 2013). However, when disclosing negative information, it is important for companies to legitimize the negative aspects, as the negative information could otherwise harm the company. As a result of this, different legitimacy strategies are used by companies when disclosing negative information (Hahn et al., 2021). Based on this, this thesis explores and analyses strategies for disclosing negative sustainability information. In particular, the study examines companies within the fast fashion industry, a heavily debated sector in regard to sustainability, which indicates that the companies within the business should try to legitimize themselves. 

 

To fulfil the purpose of this study the choice was made to conduct a content analysis and semi-structured interviews, where four fast fashion companies’ (H&M, SHEIN, Boohoo and American Eagle) sustainability reports were analysed to identify negative sustainability disclosure and assess how the companies’ tried to legitimize these negative aspects. Later, the disclosure strategies’ impacts on stakeholders were examined through 10 semi-structured interviews with concerned stakeholders. The results show that the companies subject to research did use the strategies corrective action, marginalization, abstraction, and preventive action to legitimize negative sustainability issues. The strategies were often not effective in enhancing legitimacy mainly because of too vague measures, but also because of the disbelief from stakeholders regarding the industry’s will and ability to change. However, the findings also indicated that the negative disclosure could enhance a bit of legitimacy as it signalled transparency and accountability, which is preferred compared to denial or compliance. 

 

The study’s implications are important for scholars and practitioners. The theoretical contributions were added to the research field of negative disclosure and legitimacy strategies, and the implications are important for managers working within the fast fashion industry as well. This is because the results of this study will develop their knowledge of how certain negative disclosures strategies can play a both positive and negative role in enhancing the legitimacy towards stakeholders.  

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2023. , p. 52
Keywords [en]
Negative sustainability disclosure, legitimacy, legitimacy strategies
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-96130OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-96130DiVA, id: diva2:1783087
Subject / course
Business Administration
Educational program
Master Programme in Accounting and Control: Master (120 ECTS credits)
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2023-08-29 Created: 2023-07-18 Last updated: 2023-08-29Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

fulltext(1012 kB)129 downloads
File information
File name FULLTEXT01.pdfFile size 1012 kBChecksum SHA-512
906183d8c07a5b151f17958f09e7104d1241694489f77b339bad2f3ae81fcdb6e757b499fa1293ddb5ea5978a5eb4210ead386d0ddf3f6abedc9298060e0e1b6
Type fulltextMimetype application/pdf

By organisation
Karlstad Business School (from 2013)
Business Administration

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
Total: 129 downloads
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

urn-nbn

Altmetric score

urn-nbn
Total: 406 hits
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • apa.csl
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf