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INSTITUTIONAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP THROUGH VOLUNTARY STANDARD SETTING: THE CASE OF THE GLOBAL REPORTING INITIATIVE

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Abstract

We study institutional entrepreneurship in an emergent field by analyzing the case of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and its efforts to purposefully institutionalize the practice of sustainability reporting. We attempt to understand how a resource constrained organization creates a new logic at the juncture between potentially conflicting institutional spheres. Using discourse and frame analysis, we identify three linguistic mechanisms harnessed by GRI: ambiguity reduction, discourse bridging and robust design. These intertwined mechanisms address both conceptual and practical aspects of sustainability reporting and provide a coherent rationale for convergence on a voluntary standard.

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... They should also make full disclosure of these consequences in a comprehensive sustainability report that details its governance structure, stakeholder engagement strategy, and triple bottom line performance. According to Etzion and Ferraro (2006), sustainability reporting did not emerge from the ground up; rather, companies began expanding their environmental reports to address a broader range of issues by combining economic, environmental, and social concerns into a single report. As more transparency about environmental consequences and performance is demanded by many stakeholders, a considerable number of corporations around the world have begun to report on these problems (Oluwagbemiga, 2014). ...
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... ),Lawrence and Phillips (2004),Phillips et al. (2004), Maguire et. al. (2004), Maguire and Hardy (2006,Greenwood and Suddaby (2006), andEtzion and Ferraro (2006). Maguireet al defined institutional entrepreneurship as representing 'the activities of actors who have an interest in particular institutional arrangements and who leverage resources to create new institutions or to transform existing ones' (2004: 657). ...
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Since its conception in 1999, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has become a leading template for voluntary sustainability reporting by companies. Emerging on the crest of the debate about corporate social responsibility, appropriate roles for business, government, and civil society in the sustainability transition, and private forms of global governance, it is also a descendant of 1970s social movements. Drawing on extensive empirical data collected through interviews and documentary analysis in four countries, the institutional entrepreneurship framework is used to analyse three types of tactics deployed by GRI champions: discursive, material and charismatic. Central to GRI entrepreneurs' success was maintaining balance between the individual and collective interests of their diverse constituencies, between inclusiveness and efficient pursuit of technical objectives, and between building a new institution and not challenging existing institutions and power relations. This strategy, though perhaps appropriate under the circumstances, left a legacy of unresolved tensions. How these are resolved will determine GRI's future shape and function.
... ,Lawrence and Phillips (2004),Phillips et al. (2004), Maguire et. al. (2004), Maguire and Hardy (2006,Greenwood and Suddaby (2006), andEtzion and Ferraro (2006). Maguire et al defined institutional entrepreneurship as representing 'the activities of actors who have an interest in particular institutional arrangements and who leverage resources to create new institutions or to transform existing ones' (2004: 657). ...
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One of the persistent problems facing institutional organization theory has been the question of how to deal with interest-driven behaviour and institutional change. If organizational structures and strategies are shaped by institutional environments, what is the role of 'strategic choice' in the management of organizations? In this paper, my aim is to develop an integrative concept which theorizes the connection of strategic agency and institutions in a model of institutional change. I argue that, under market conditions, institutional rules and intentional rational agency can be conceptualized as antagonistic mechanisms that contradict each other, but, nevertheless, remain interdependent. The incorporation of a systematic place for interests does not weaken the main theoretical trait of institutional theory, but, on the contrary, demonstrates the importance of institutional rules for understanding institutional change in a comprehensive model. The notion of uncertainty is at the centre of this model. By referring to existing empirical findings of processes of institutional change, four propositions are developed and supported.
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Movement-countermovement interaction is an ongoing feature of contemporary social movements and, indeed, of contemporary politics. Yet the interplay of contending movements is understudied and undertheorized. This article begins to remedy this deficit by arguing that new work on political opportunity structure provides important insights and significant theoretical leverage for this study. Through a review of the literatures on countermovements and political opportunity, this article argues that this interaction increases when states enable but do not satisfy challengers. This article presents a general framework of theoretical propositions for understanding the interplay of movements and their opponents to animate and guide subsequent research.
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It is becoming clear that communicating effectively with stakeholders on progress towards economic prosperity, environmental quality and social justice i.e. the triple bottom line, will become a defining characteristic of corporate responsibility in the 21st century (Elkington J. 1998. Cannibals with Forks: the Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business. New Society: Vancouver). However, most companies that currently use paper-based and even web-based communication vehicles for their corporate performance reports are not realizing the full potential value of these communications – either for themselves or for their stakeholders. This may be due in part to the fact that historically reports have not sufficiently engaged ‘direct stakeholders’, i.e. employees, customers, investors, suppliers and local communities. In this paper we review the recent history of environmental and social reporting and conclude that, whilst much progress has been made, significant challenges remain. Most notably these challenges include (i) the avoidance of engagement fatigue by stakeholders and opinion formers alike and (ii) the extension of triple-bottom-line principles from corporate headquarters into business unit operations. Conversely there is enormous potential for addressing these challenges and creating significant value for both corporations and their stakeholders through the development of truly interactive (cybernetic) corporate sustainability reports and communications delivered via the internet and other channels. We explore some of the implications of what we believe to be an inevitable transition in how these communications will be orchestrated. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment
Reviews 25 years of social and environmental accounting literature in an attempt to evaluate the position and answer the question posed in the title, as well as to provide a structure or classification for others to use. In order to structure the task, uses three time periods: 1971-1980; 1981-1990; and 1991-1995, and classifies the literature into several sub-groups including empirical studies, normative statements, philosophical discussion, non-accounting literature, teaching programmes and textbooks, regulatory frameworks, and other reviews. Attempts, after the classification, to synthesize an overall chronological position. Concludes that there is something to celebrate after 25 years. However, the continued success of this field is dependent on a relatively small number of researchers, writers, and specialized journals without which there would be the danger of a collapse of interest and a loss of what has been gained so far. Consequently, the provision of a place in the advanced undergraduate and graduate curriculum is a major task for the next decade. Argues that appropriately qualified and motivated professionals are needed to contribute to environmental policy and management in both the public and private sectors. However, appropriate educational programmes have not been evident to date.
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In the modern world, there is no shortage of people who know what is best for others. Self-appointed experts, consultants, and organizations try to convince states, corporations, and individuals that they would be better off if they only followed some specific rules about what to do. These rules are presented as being voluntary and advisory. They are standards, not mandatory directives, and they abound in modern life. Standards may concern what characteristics a telephone should have, how a company should report its financial transactions, how organizations should be managed, how states should treat their citizens, how children should be raised, and so forth. Even organizations as powerful as states and large corporations follow standards on how to organize, which policies to pursue, what kinds of services to provide, or how their products should be designed. Standards enable a higher degree of global order in the modern world than would exist without them. They facilitate coordination and cooperation even among people and organizations that are far apart. The book states that standardization is a much neglected area of social science — an area that has by no means received the attention it deserves in view of its importance to society. This book redresses the balance by providing an in-depth examination of a number of aspects of standardization, how it is formed, and what effects it has on the world in which we live.
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Media discourse and public opinion are treated as two parallel systems of constructing meaning. This paper explores their relationship by analyzing the discourse on nuclear power in four general audience media: television news coverage, newsmagazine accounts, editorial cartoons, and syndicated opinion columns. The analysis traces the careers of different interpretive packages on nuclear power from 1945 to the present. This media discourse, it is argued, is an essential context for understanding the formation of public opinion on nuclear power. More specifically, it helps to account for such survey results as the decline in support for nuclear power before Three Mile Island, a rebound after a burst of media publicity has died out, the gap between general support for nuclear power and support for a plant in one's own community, and the changed relationship of age to support for nuclear power from 1950 to the present.
Article
[Excerpt] Our primary aims in this effort are twofold: to clarify the independent theoretical contributions of institutional theory to analyses of organizations, and to develop this theoretical perspective further in order to enhance its use in empirical research. There is also a more general, more ambitious objective here, and that is to build a bridge between two distinct models of social actor that underlie most organizational analyses, which we refer to as a rational actor model and an institutional model. The former is premised on the assumption that individuals are constantly engaged in calculations of the costs and benefits of different action choices, and that behavior reflects such utility-maximizing calculations. In the latter model, by contrast, 'oversocialized' individuals are assumed to accept and follow social norms unquestioningly, without any real reflection or behavioral resistance based on their own particular, personal interests. We suggest that these two general models should be treated not as oppositional but rather as representing two ends of a continuum of decision-making processes and behaviors. Thus, a key problem for theory and research is to specify the conditions under which behavior is more likely to resemble one end of this continuum or the other. In short, what is needed are theories of when rationality is likely to be more or less bounded. A developed conception of institutionalization processes provides a useful point of departure for exploring this issue.
Takes as its departure point the criticism of Guthrie and Parker by Arnold and the Tinker et al. critique of Gray et al. Following an extensive review of the corporate social reporting literature, its major theoretical preoccupations and empirical conclusions, attempts to re-examine the theoretical tensions that exist between “classical” political economy interpretations of social disclosure and those from more “bourgeois” perspectives. Argues that political economy, legitimacy theory and stakeholder theory need not be competitor theories but may, if analysed appropriately, be seen as alternative and mutually enriching theories from alternative levels of resolution. Offers evidence from 13 years of social disclosure by UK companies and attempts to interpret this from different levels of resolution. There is little doubt that social disclosure practice has changed dramatically in the period. The theoretical perspectives prove to offer different, but mutually enhancing, interpretations of these phenomena.
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This paper considers the role of design, as the emergent arrangement of concrete details that embodies a new idea, in mediating between innovations and established institutional fields as entrepreneurs attempt to introduce change. Analysis of Thomas Edison's system of electric lighting offers insights into how the grounded details of an innovation's design shape its acceptance and ultimate impact. The notion of robust design is introduced to explain how Edison's design strategy enabled his organization to gain acceptance for an innovation that would ultimately displace the existing institutions of the gas industry. By examining the principles through which design allows entrepreneurs to exploit the established institutions while simultaneously retaining the flexibility to displace them, this analysis highlights the value of robust design strategies in innovation efforts, including the phonograph, the online service provider, and the digital video recorder.
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The discursive responsibilities of citizenship demand a dialogic mode of corporate behavior characterized by demonstrations of respect, commitment, and exposure. Issues management that integrates strategic business goals with dialogic public communication efforts will better meet the discursive requirements of full membership in civil society.Corporate Reputation Review (2003) 6, 47-57; doi:10.1057/palgrave.crr.1540189
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An emerging environmental management tool is the corporate environmental report, a free-standing document, analogous to the corporate annual report, but which covers environmental and often health and safety issues. This study examines the nature of the corporate environmental reports of large, public, US companies to determine which companies produce reports, what type of information is reported, how this information is presented, and who might be the audiences for this information. This study also seeks to identify state of the art practice in corporate environmental reports, drawing on the US reports and leading environmental reports from Europe and Canada.Over 100 US companies now publish corporate environmental reports. These companies are primarily from the manufacturing sector, although they are increasingly part of the service sector. Report issuers identified employees and shareholders as their primary audiences. Both overall report organization and composition as well as report distribution, including the use of the Internet for environmental reporting, were examined. Topics which reflect leading edge environmental practice are identified and examples from reports are given. These topics include integrating business and environmental performance, environmental policy, goals and measurement, management and organizational structure, environmental and resource data presentation, third-party verification, disclosure of negative information, and sustainability. The paper discusses trends in reporting and makes recommendations to improve reports.© 1997 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.