Global Reporting Initiative GRI as an Emerging Institution

This research emerged in the context of a growing interest among academics and practitioners at that time in corporate social responsibility, CSR. Some proponents of using market-based tools, instead of direct regulations, to influence the behavior of firms touted the information disclosure-based approach to be a powerful form of “civil regulation”. This multiyear project, funded by the National Science Foundation, examined the Global Reporting Initiative, GRI, through the lens of the institutional theory, focusing on the character and effectiveness of GRI as an emergent societal institution. In collaboration with Martin de Young at Technical University of Delft we tested the belief, then popular among academics and practitioners, that information disclosure can in many instances be an effective substitute to direct regulations and market-based incentives. The results of our research directly challenged this belief.

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