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From Values to Value: The Commensuration of Sustainability Reporting and the Crowding Out of Morality

van Bommel, K., Rasche, A. & Spicer, A. (2022). From Values to Value: The Commensuration of Sustainability Reporting and the Crowding Out of Morality. Organization and Environment, doi: 10.1177/10860266221086617

Abstract

Drawing on extensive case study evidence, this study unpacks sustainability reporting’s evolution from a moral values-based practice towards a financialized value-based one. We argue that this transition can be seen as a commensuration project. We examine the dynamics of this process and its implications for sustainability related outcomes. We find that increased levels of commensuration have moved sustainability reporting away from an original emphasis on morality and values to a focus on strategic value creation for the firm. We theorize this process as a ‘crowding out of morality’ that is enabled by a rigid cognitive framing of social and environmental issues (objectification) and the monetized coordination of relevant social interactions (marketization). We outline implications of our analysis for the scholarly debates on the institutionalization of sustainability reporting and commensuration.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).
Publisher Keywords: commensuration, corporate responsibility, integrated reporting, morality, sustainability reporting
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Departments: Bayes Business School
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