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This paper aims to deepen the understanding of logics and practice variation in sustainability reporting in an emerging field.Design/methodology/approachThis paper adopts the institutional logics perspective and its conceptualization of society as an inter-institutional system as a theoretical lens to understand reasons for the presence of and variation in sustainability reporting. The empirical findings are based on analysis of 28 semi-structured interviews with significant social actors, and extensive documentary evidence focusing on eight companies pioneering sustainability reporting in Pakistan.FindingsThis paper confirms the presence of multiple co-existing logics in sustainability practices and lack of a dominant logic. Sustainability reporting practices are underpinned by a combination of market and corporate (business logics), state (regulatory logics), professional (transparency logics) and community (responsibility logics) institutional orders. It is argued that institutional heterogeneity (variations in logics) drives the diversity of motivations for and variations in sustainability reporting practices.Research limitations/implicationsThe paper offers a deeper theoretical explanation of how various logics dominate sustainability reporting in a field where the institutionalization of practice is in its infancy.Practical implicationsUnderstanding the conditions that influence the logics of corporate decision-makers will provide new insights into what motivates firms to engage in sustainability reporting. A broader understanding of sustainability reporting in emerging fields will foster its intended use to increase transparency, accountability and sustainability performance.Originality/valueThis paper contributes to relatively scarce but growing empirical research on emerging fields. Its major contribution lies in its focus on how multiple and conflicting institutional logics are instantiated at the organizational level, leading to wide practice variations, especially in an emerging field. In doing so, it advances the institutional logics debate on practice variations within the accounting literature.
Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jun 7, 2021
Keywords: Sustainability reporting; Institutional logics; Practice variations; Emerging field and Pakistan
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