Organizing for Sustainability Reporting: a comparison between Denmark and Switzerland

Felix Harrer

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis analyses the national actors that organize for institutionalization of sustainability reporting (SR) in DK and CH. Studies on SR often focus on the global proliferation and ignoring the national idiosyncrasies, and in particular the national actors that are engaged in the institutionalization of SR outside reporting entities. This thesis fills this gap by addressing the question how national actors in different countries organize for institutionalization of SR on a national level. The actors of interests were corporate stakeholders, such as government, auditors, NGOs and business associations, while corporations were deliberately excluded. To answer the question, this study applied a qualitative, comparative case study, using Denmark as a case for mandatory SR, and Switzerland as a case for voluntary SR. The analysis builds on a novel analytical framework derived from three streams of new institutionalism: Issue-centric organizational field theory, institutional logics and institutional work. The combination of the three allowed defining clear boundaries of the national field (issue-centric field theory) and assessing the dynamics between institutions and actors (institutional logics and work) in the organization for SR. The main finding of this thesis is that the organization of SR on a national level differs between countries. The two case studies on Denmark and Switzerland have shown that actors organize – or in the case of Switzerland do not organize – for sustainability reporting on a national level. The regulatory context thereby plays a key role. Second, actors in both countries use different elements of institutional work and are guided by different logics. Last, permeable boundaries make national actors important promoters of international standards on national level. Local actors thereby contribute national as well as global institutionalization of SR.

EducationsMSc in International Business and Politics, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2015
Number of pages86