Journal of Business Ethics 110 (2):173-190 (2012)

In this article we explore how multinational corporations (MNCs) adopt assurance practices to develop and sustain organizational accountability for sustainability. Using a panel of Fortune Global 250 firms over a period of 10 years, we document the diffusion patterns of third-party assurance of sustainability reports. We specifically investigate how evolving auditing practices, namely diversity of assurance standards and type of assurance providers, shape the quality of sustainability assurance statements. The results illustrate great variability in the adoption of assurance practices in the formative stages of this novel market. Our descriptive analysis indicates the relevance of external institutional pressure as well as internal resources and capabilities as underlying factors driving the adoption of assurance. Our evidence also suggests that several MNCs project a decoupled or symbolic image of accountability through assurance, thereby undermining the credibility of these verification practices. The paper contributes to the emerging literature on international accountability standards and emphasizes the need to enhance theory-based, cross-disciplinary knowledge related to auditing and accountability processes for sustainability
Keywords Accountability  Accountants  Assurance  Assurance statements  Multinationals  Reporting  Standards  Sustainability  Verification
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10551-012-1420-5
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 65,657
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Transparency and Assurance Minding the Credibility Gap.Nicole Dando & Tracey Swift - 2003 - Journal of Business Ethics 44 (2/3):195 - 200.

View all 11 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

View all 28 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

A Framework for Sustainability.Joseph Tainter - 2003 - World Futures 59 (3 & 4):213 – 223.
Risk Management as a Tool for Sustainability.Frank C. Krysiak - 2009 - Journal of Business Ethics 85 (S3):483 - 492.
Multiple Levels of Corporate Sustainability.Marcel van Marrewijk & Marco Werre - 2003 - Journal of Business Ethics 44 (2-3):107-119.
Multiple Levels of Corporate Sustainability.Marcel Van Marrewijk & Marco Werre - 2003 - Journal of Business Ethics 44 (2/3):107 - 119.
A Framework to Introduce Leadership for Sustainability in Higher Education.Elena Cavagnaro & George H. Curiel - 2006 - Proceedings of the International Association for Business and Society 17:286-291.
Drivers of Sustainability Strategy in Family Firms.Sanjay Sharma - 2009 - Proceedings of the International Association for Business and Society 20:194-205.
Stakeholders and Sustainability: An Evolving Theory. [REVIEW]Kevin Gibson - 2012 - Journal of Business Ethics 109 (1):15-25.


Added to PP index

Total views
68 ( #161,506 of 2,462,366 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
5 ( #144,280 of 2,462,366 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes