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Sustainability reports - Legitimizing negative aspects: A qualitative study on the Swedish steel industry
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
2019 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Problem: Legitimacy is a resource that organizations depend on for their survival. According to legitimacy theory companies need to make sure that they are recognized as operating within the bounds and norms of society and sustainability reports is a way for companies to communicate this. Due to an addition to the Swedish annual accounting law in 2016, large companies are required to produce a sustainability report and to report the consequences that the company operations has on the environment, social conditions, employees, respect for human rights and counteracting corruption. Because companies are required to disclose these negative aspects, they need to do it strategically to not damage their legitimacy.

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to understand how Swedish companies in the steel industry legitimize negative aspects of their operations in sustainability reports and to understand if there is a pattern between the type of negative aspect disclosed and the type of legitimation strategy used.

Method: To achieve the purpose of our study, a qualitative method has been used. A multiple case-study with a document analysis has been conducted on the sustainability reports of Sandvik, SSAB, Boliden, LKAB and Outokumpu for year 2018. To conduct this study, legitimacy theory and Hahn & Lülfs (2014) legitimation strategies have been essential to fulfill the purpose.

Results: Swedish companies in the steel industry use Hahn & Lülfs (2014) legitimation strategies and our new identified legitimation strategy, balancing, to legitimize negative aspects in their sustainability reports. We found four clear patterns between the type of negative aspect reported and the strategy used to legitimize the aspect.

Conclusion: Our findings confirm that Hahn & Lülfs (2014) strategies to explain how companies legitimize negative aspects in sustainability reports are also applicable to the Swedish steel industry. The contribution to previous research on this topic is the new additional strategy that is used by the analyzed companies.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. , p. 46
Keywords [en]
Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR report, sustainability report, legitimacy, legitimacy theory, legitimacy gap
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-160729OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-160729DiVA, id: diva2:1328688
Educational program
International Business Program
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2019-06-24 Created: 2019-06-22 Last updated: 2019-06-24Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

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Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
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  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
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  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
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