“Social and environmental reporting in New Zealand : analysing the (non)-institutionalisation of practice”
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Commerce
The purpose of this thesis is to better understand why the social and environmental reporting practices of New Zealand business entities are ‘starting behind’ international counterparts. An integral aspect is gaining an understanding of the role of key players in the organisational field who have the potential to influence social and environmental reporting in New Zealand. This thesis is motivated by the importance of business entities pursuing sustainability-related practices, and being accountable for their actions through providing external social and environmental reports. The theoretical framework for this research is neo-institutional theory. The research method involved mapping the organisational field in order to identify players that influence, or have the potential to influence the social and environmental reporting practices of New Zealand business entities. Initially comprehensive background information was collected from websites, academic articles, surveys and a University of Canterbury archive. Subsequently semi-structured interviews were conducted with key players, Chief Executives from three Sustainable Business Intermediaries and Senior Executives from 11 of their members. Findings from the interviews were analysed through an iterative process allowing for emerging themes to be analysed using prior literature and explained through the lens of neo-institutional theory. The findings and analysis chapters are structured according to the research questions. Chapter six finds weak isomorphic pressures have influenced New Zealand business entities’ social and environmental reporting practices, but have not institutionalised this practice. The rationales of accountability and the business case have both motivated and caused resistance to business entities’ engagement in social and environmental reporting. Chapter seven finds the role of Sustainable Business Intermediaries facilitates weak isomorphic pressures on members’ social and environmental reporting practice. However, the business case rationale results in resistance to the practice of social and environmental reporting with legitimacy a key focus of these field players. Although coercive pressure in New Zealand is weak or lacking there is potential through field players’ roles to influence or enforce coercive pressure. The research concludes with recommendations that the New Zealand government should regulate social and environmental reporting. There has been extensive research focusing on various aspects of social and environmental reporting. However, there is little work focusing on the role and influence of field players through engagement-based research. Hence filling this gap extends the understanding of key field players’ influence on and interest in institutionalising social and environmental reporting and why this practice is resisted. Ultimately this research offers policy recommendations for the New Zealand government.