Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the extent to which sustainability reporting can be viewed as a simulacrum used to camouflage real sustainable‐development problems and project an idealized view of the firms' situations. Design/methodology/approach – The method was based on the content analysis and counter accounting of 23 sustainability reports from firms in the energy and mining sectors which had received application levels of A or A+ from the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). The information disclosed in some 2,700 pages of reports was structured around 92 GRI indicators and compared with 116 significant news events that clearly addressed the responsibility of these firms in sustainable development problems. Moreover, the 1,258 pictures included in sustainability reports were categorized into recurring themes from an inductive perspective. Findings – A total of 90 per cent of the significant negative events were not reported, contrary to the principles of balance, completeness and transparency of GRI reports. Moreover, the pictures included in these reports showcase various simulacra clearly disconnected with the impact of business activities. Originality/value – The paper shows the relevance of the counter accounting approach in assessing the quality of sustainability reports and question the reliability of the GRI's A or A+ application levels. It contributes to debates concerning the transparency of sustainability reports in light of Debord's and Baudrillard's critical perspective. The paper reveals the underexplored role of images in the emergence of several types of simulacra.
Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Sep 13, 2013
Keywords: Sustainability reporting; Sustainable development; Counter accounting; Transparency; Simulacra; GRI; Assurance; Spectacle; Energy industry; Mining industry
It’s your single place to instantly
discover and read the research
that matters to you.
Enjoy affordable access to
over 18 million articles from more than
15,000 peer-reviewed journals.
All for just $49/month
Query the DeepDyve database, plus search all of PubMed and Google Scholar seamlessly
Save any article or search result from DeepDyve, PubMed, and Google Scholar... all in one place.
Get unlimited, online access to over 18 million full-text articles from more than 15,000 scientific journals.
Read from thousands of the leading scholarly journals from SpringerNature, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford University Press and more.
All the latest content is available, no embargo periods.
“Hi guys, I cannot tell you how much I love this resource. Incredible. I really believe you've hit the nail on the head with this site in regards to solving the research-purchase issue.”Daniel C.
“Whoa! It’s like Spotify but for academic articles.”@Phil_Robichaud
“I must say, @deepdyve is a fabulous solution to the independent researcher's problem of #access to #information.”@deepthiw
“My last article couldn't be possible without the platform @deepdyve that makes journal papers cheaper.”@JoseServera