The purpose of this study was to examine and analyze the change in sustainability reporting as well as the incentives behind the commitment of voluntary sustainability reporting in municipalities. The initial point for the study was to explain how the municipalities' sustainability reports have developed and harmonized during the period 2015–2019 and what incentives are behind the municipalities' voluntary sustainability report. To answer the study's purpose and problem formulation, empirical data have been collected through content analysis of the municipalities' sustainability and annual reports and interviews. The content analysis was conducted in five Swedish municipalities and interviews were conducted with three respondents from sustainability departments in three of the study's five municipalities.
In the analysis, collected empirics have been interpreted with the help of the theoretical framework which deals with stakeholder theory and legitimacy theory. The result shows that the municipalities' form of accounting in the voluntary sustainability reports has been developed through a clear transition to separate sustainability reports. The result also clarifies that there is a shift in the municipalities' application of accounting standard to applying SDG as the accounting standard in the municipalities' sustainability reports. As a result of the transition to the application of SDG as the accounting standard, the number of informed SDGs has increased in the majority of the municipalities' sustainability reports. The form of information has also been changed through an increase in quantified information, which is reported verbally in combination with measurements. There is also a marked increase in the harmonization of sustainability reporting in the municipalities between the years 2015–2019. Both formal and material harmonization are increasing. The primary incentive behind the municipalities' voluntary sustainability report is the assignment from the politicians who are the municipalities' primary stakeholders. The secondary incentives proved to be legitimacy and accountability.
|Date of Award
|Caroline Pontoppidan (Supervisor) & Heléne Tjärnemo (Examiner)
- Degree of Bachelor of Science in Business and Economics
- 15 HE credits
Swedish Standard Keywords
- Business Administration (50202)
- sustainability reporting
- voluntary reporting