Building Institutions Based on Information Disclosure: Lessons from GRI's Sustainability Reporting
Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is the best-known framework for voluntary reporting of environmental and social performance by business worldwide. Using extensive empirical data, including interviews and documentary analysis, we examine GRI's organizational field and conclude that since its modest beginnings in 1999 GRI has been by several measures a successful institutionalization project. But the institutional logic of this new entity, as an instrument for corporate sustainability management, leaves out one of the central elements of the initial vision for GRI: as a mobilizing agent for many societal actors. This emergent logic reflects GRI's dominant constituency - large global companies and financial institutions and international business management consultancies - and not the less active civil society organizations and organized labor. We attribute these developments to factors such as building GRI within the existing institutional structures; the highly inclusive multistakeholder process; and the underdeveloped base of information users. From the institutional theory perspective, this case shows how the process of institutionalization is deeply affected by initial strategies of the founders, and how it reproduces existing power relations. From the governance perspective, this case leads us to question the power of commodified information to mobilize civil society and to strengthen governance based on partnerships. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Journal of Cleaner Production
civil regulation, CSR, GRI, information disclosure, sustainability reporting
Brown, Halina Szejnwald; de Jong, Martin; and Levy, David L., "Building Institutions Based on Information Disclosure: Lessons from GRI's Sustainability Reporting" (2009). International Development, Community, and Environment. 413.