Sustainability management and Sustainability Reporting (SR) practices have dramatically increased during the last t w o decades, raising important questions about the relationship between internal practices and external communication. Previous literature on SR has almost exclusively highlighted the role of institutional and stakeholder pressures in driving its adoption. However, as surveys among reporters also identify internal benefits of SR, its full role for company-level sustainability management remains unclear.
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Abstract: This work, set in the context of the apparel industry, proposes an action-oriented disclosure tool to help solve the sustainability challenges of complex fast-fashion supply chains (SCs). In a search for effective disclosure, it focusses on actions towards sustainability instead of the measurements and indicators of its impacts. We applied qualitative and quantitative content analysis to the sustainability reporting of the world’s two largest fast-fashion companies in three phases. First, we searched for the challenges that the organisations report they are currently facing. Second, we introduced the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework to overcome the voluntary reporting drawback of ‘choosing what to disclose’, and revealed orphan issues. This broadened the scope from internal corporate challenges to issues impacting the ecosystems in which companies operate. Third, we analysed the reported sustainability actions and decomposed them into topics, instruments, and actors. The results showed that fast-fashion reporting has a broadly developed analysis base, but lacks action orientation. This has led us to propose the ‘Fast-Fashion Sustainability Scorecard’ as a universal disclosure framework that shifts the focus from (i) reporting towards action; (ii) financial performance towards sustainable value creation; and (iii) corporate boundaries towards value creation for the broader SC ecosystem.
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The background examining determinants of voluntary disclosure is extensive and a good portion of the literature has found country specific and industry specific determinants, although there a high number of different variables are studied (see the review included in Table 1 by Albers & Günther, 2011, pp. 330). Finally, practice says that “bigger companies are better at CR reporting… As a result, any large companies that are not already reporting on CR will soon run the risk of being viewed as less transparent than their peers”, that “those industry sectors that have the greatest influence over society and the environment (such as certain sectors of the energy and natural resources industry) show a higher commitment to reporting than other sectors that may be seen as wielding less influence”, and finally that “the ownership of a company has a direct impact on their propensity to report CR activity. Publicly listed companies tend to be somewhat more advanced in CR reporting in comparison to other types of ownership structures” (KPMG, 2011).
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There has been a vast amount of research addressing the corporate adoption of SR practices over the last forty years (see , for a systematic review). In seeking to understand why corporations would voluntarily disclose sustainability-related information, most of this research has privileged the role of SR as a means to achieve organizational legitimacy , , be it from strategic or institutional perspectives . On the one hand, studies informed by a strategic approach to legitimacy have tended to highlight the role of managers in adopting SR as a means to create and manipulate social perceptions about corporate behaviour , . On the other hand, neo-institutional approaches to legitimacy have in turn emphasized the influence of social and political developments, constraining and virtually forcing companies to adopt SR in order to maintain their license to operate , .
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sustainability-related information and the existence of suitable data collection and information systems. As previous research on the phenomenon of corporate non-reporting has demonstrated (Martin and Hadley, 2009), technical barriers during the implementation of SR frameworks are one of the primary reasons for the decision of not to adopt SR practices. In addition to data collection issues, the ability to understand and evaluate the information generated through SR practices seems to be critical to its successful implementation. Indeed, empirical research has also shown that previous experience with other related standards (such as environmental management systems) facilitates the implementation of SR practices (Husillos et al., 2011).
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readiness training to underserved youth, empowering diverse owners of businesses through our supply chain, advocating for secure and frictionless visa and entry policies into the U .S ., and continuing to innovate for more resource-efficient hotels are growing in importance and being recognized by our guests and industry alike . We continue to evolve our sustainability reporting to best meet our stakeholder’s needs . This year, we have created a series of issue reports to provide easier access to relevant topics and have also consolidated these reports for those who are interested in the whole story . The reports disclose the progress we have made toward our sustainability goals in 2013 . Unless otherwise noted, the reports are based on data from Marriott’s 2013 fiscal year and reflect operational performance of our 1,101 company-operated hotels, which include owned, leased and managed properties, and exclude rooms from franchised, unconsolidated joint ventures and timeshare properties .
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Fiscal spending in years of crisis and depression means a counter-cyclical policy. In a neoclassi- cal model, the sustainability of such spending would not be a challenge as it assumes counter- cyclical behavior in years of economic growth too. Nevertheless, since the 1970s, the European fiscal practice has been rather pro-cyclical with tempo- rary adjustments; many national public budgets in Europe already had high indebtedness in the eve of the crisis in 2008. The concept of fiscal sustai- nability means that sovereigns’ solvency is ensured if current debt equals the net present value of the sum of future primary surpluses (Benczes & Kutasi, 2010: 67). Otherwise, continuous annual deficits will enforce adjustment to the structure of the public budget.
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Faced to this situation, the Spanish government is currently embarked on a policy of strong spending cuts and (to a lower extent) tax increases, in order to curb the budget deficit. The results of this and our previous paper (Bajo-Rubio, Díaz-Roldán and Esteve, 2010) would suggest that, in the long run and even under a FD regime (more typical of a less developed country), budget deficits would have been sustainable; and they showed a mean-reverting dynamic behavior after a certain threshold was reached, which in turn would have assured their long-run sustainability. In principle, restoring the sustainability of public finances would be constrained by the EMU common monetary policy, the lack of nominal exchange rate policy, and the fiscal discipline required at the EU level. But an independent monetary policy (or a MD regime), on imposing a greater discipline to policymakers, should help to achieve fiscal sustainability; in fact, in Spain last years were characterized by a MD regime, and this did not prove to be harmful to achieve fiscal sustainability (Bajo-Rubio, Díaz-Roldán and Esteve, 2009). Moreover, the current Spanish fiscal consolidation program for the period 2012-2014, aims at a target of 4.5% of GDP in 2013 for the budget deficit, i.e., the threshold value obtained in Bajo-Rubio, Díaz- Roldán and Esteve (2010). However, the risks of pursuing a hard consolidation strategy when the economy is under recession should not be overlooked. As recently noted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF, 2012), such policies could deepen the current recession, which in turn means an additional obstacle for decreasing the government deficit.
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Usability was considered as relevant in terms of appropriateness recognizability, operability, and user error protection. The relevance of these attributes was to the social sustainability dimension. User error protection was addressed using field-validation, mandatory fields, and action confirmation. Protecting users against making errors is relevant to the social dimension because it is strongly related to the quality of user experience . Furthermore, this QA was also considered relevant both to the technical and economic dimensions, which were also confirmed by two case studies. As both contributions were not considered in the original model, they are marked with a “ + ”. During the testing period, some issues related to operability had to be fixed (and therefore, the attribute was considered relevant). Finally, the appropriateness recognizability was also addressed because end-users recognized that the system is appropriate for meeting their needs.
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As buying firms are increasingly pressured to improve severe working conditions at the supplier level, guarantee product quality and respect for the environment throughout the supply chain, the suppliers are in turn inundated by multiple requirements for sustainability in addition to short lead times and competitive prices (Stigzelius & Mark-Herbert, 2009). On the one hand, the implementation of sustainability standards absorbs large resources and small suppliers may experience significant difficulties in bearing such investments (Welford & Frost, 2006). The cost for a SA8000 audit, for instance, may range between $500 and $1500 per day (SAI, 2008), which vary with the number of employees and the locations. In addition to the direct costs of the certification, there are precertification activities, such as improving health and safety facilities and revision of wages as well as training and consultancy. Furthermore, future business is not conditioned upon compliance with such standards (Stigzelius & Mark-Herbert, 2009). On the other hand, environmental and social standards are usually adopted in a top-down manner from buying firms, which does not allow managers and workers in supplier factories to understand the main purpose of such initiatives (Jenkins, Pearson, & Seyfang, 2002). Stakeholder groups may have different competing interests and scopes, a phenomenon referred to as stakeholder ambiguity (Hall & Vredenburg, 2003): irreconcilable differences emerge based on ethical, religious, cultural and business characteristics, and stakeholders (i.e., buying firms) may be unwilling to clearly articulate their goals and positions.
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BC5.31 Determining when a present obligation arises in a public sector context is complex and, in some cases, might be considered arbitrary. This is particularly so when considering whether liabilities can arise from obligations that are not enforceable by legal or equivalent means. In the context of programs to deliver social benefits there are a number of stages at which a present obligation can arise and there can be significant differences between jurisdictions, even where programs are similar, and also over time within the same jurisdiction —for example, different age cohorts may have different expectations about the likelihood of receiving benefits under a social assistance program. Assessing whether a government cannot ignore such expectations and therefore has little or no realistic alternative to transfer resources may be subjective. This gives rise to concerns that such subjectivity undermines consistency in the reporting of liabilities, and can also impact adversely on understandability. Some therefore take the view that an essential characteristic of a liability should be that it is enforceable at the reporting date by legal or equivalent means.
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An enterprise has a life cycle, the same way as almost everything else, they start, grow, mature, and if they don’t find a way to survive, they die. So, a company must achieve self-sustainability to keep attracting new customers, improving and releasing new products and services, and this is why innovation is key in an enterprise. However, innovation is not an easy task, it requires enterprises to invest time and capital in research and development, this could take long periods and considerable amount of money. Keeping that in mind, we would like to know which financial factors have an impact on innovativeness, and specially which ones affects it in a positive way, for example the sources of capital used (internal or external), if the company is public or private and the accounting reporting decisions.
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of game theory . In fact, previous research has already adopted this approach for analyzing different aspects relating to reputation, sustainability and corporate social responsibility. In particular, organizations face a prisoner’s dilemma type problem when they are dealing with ethical issues . In fact, an immediate application of the prisoner’s dilemma consists in presenting the prisoners as two organizations with different attitudes towards sustainability and social responsibility [55,56]. In a more formal schema, Klempner  makes a justification for sustainability and corporate social responsibility from a philosophical standpoint using the prisoner’s dilemma as an explanation. In turn, Sacconi [58,59] describes a contractual vision of sustainability and corporate social responsibility based on the prisoner’s dilemma, as an addition to the model of corporate governance of the organization, and argues that a solution to the dilemma can be achieved through cooperation with a mutually beneficial result. As an extension of these analyses, it is argued that when the entrepreneur perceives reputation as a risk source, the subsequent behavior can be framed as a prisoner’s dilemma schema. Thus, if the agents relating to the entrepreneur (namely, the stakeholders) are concerned with entrepreneurial sustainability and they observe that the entrepreneur does not defend the company against related reputational threats, when reputational damage arises they may decide to leave the entrepreneur. If an entrepreneur is concerned with entrepreneurial sustainability and decides to protect against reputational threats but the stakeholders do not reward this attitude, the entrepreneur may turn their sights towards more concerned stakeholders. If neither the entrepreneur nor the stakeholders are concerned with entrepreneurial sustainability, equilibrium arises as a non-cooperative solution of the dilemma with exposure to reputational threats. If both the entrepreneur and the stakeholders are concerned with entrepreneurial sustainability, a new solution for the dilemma arises as a cooperative outcome, with better aggregated results than the previous equilibrium insofar as there is protection against reputational threats. The different outputs of the prisoner’s dilemma are summarized in Table 1.
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Corporate sustainability is imperative for business today, essential to long-term corporate success and for ensuring that markets deliver value across society. To be sustainable, companies must operate responsibly in alignment with universal principles and take actions that support the society around them. Then, to push sustainability deep into the corporate DNA, companies must commit at the highest level, report annually on their efforts, and engage locally where they have a presence. (United Nations Global Compact, 2015)
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was to understand why certain franchise chains fail and others survive. The answer to this question can help franchisors avoid failure and ensure franchise chain survival. To achieve our research aims, we addressed the following research questions: (1) Does the survival of a franchise chain depend solely on its financial success, or does it also depend on its economic sustainability? Some franchise chains keep franchised outlets open even though these outlets are unprofitable. Doing so maintains the chain’s brand recognition and the loyalty of other franchisees, two dimensions of economic sustainability , as previously discussed. The negative financial performance of these franchised outlets is offset by the positive performance of other franchised outlets. Such a financial situation is more difficult to sustain under an independent business ownership model; Therefore, (2) if the survival of a franchise chain depends solely on its financial success, why has franchising emerged as an alternative to independent business ownership? If the franchising business model did not enable the aforementioned financial situation, there would be no difference between franchising and independent business ownership. Yet one advantage of franchising over independent businesses is the development of economies of scale derived from product or service standardization and know-how; (3) Does the choice of suitable corporate governance mechanisms that mitigate franchisor-franchisee conflict affect financial success? The franchise contract is the mechanism that governs the franchisor-franchisee relationship by stipulating clauses that affect the financial success of the franchisor and franchisees. To answer these questions and achieve our research aims, we analyzed the causes—financial causes and causes that relate to the mechanisms of franchise governance (i.e., the contract)—of franchise chain sustainability.
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The third basic principle is auditability, which is based on the traditional accounting principle of verifiability. GRI recognises the need to develop external assurance as a way to increase the credibility of sustainability reports (GRI, 2002, Annex 4). Some standards/guidelines have been developed, however AA1000 Assurance Standard (Accountability) is the most widely accepted. 8 This standard is focused on data quality, avoiding the evaluation of the company’s sustainability. These three basic principles are accompanied by eight complementary principles organized into three categories: what information to report, quality and reliability and the accessibility of reported information. The main reference to sustainable development can be found in the sustainability context principle included in the “what information to report” category. This principle suggests that the organization “should seek to place its performance in the larger context of ecological, social, or other limits or constraints, where such context adds significant meaning to the reported information”. Interpretations of this principle are usually related to the company’s interests:
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The tool with the most specific quantitative indicators, which is mainly used in the USA, is STARS, with real multiple case stud- ies and a worthy practical application (eg. Richardson and Kachler, 2016). STARS provides a framework that recognises relative progress towards sustainability as an integral quantitative and qualitative tool, used in diagnosis but also to rate effort and progress (Martins and Borges, 2015). However, most common SATs are qualitative indica- tor-based. In this sense USAT tries to establish the status of ESD by facilitating a quick assessment of the integration level of sustainability issues in university functions and operations (Caeiro et al., 2013). The AISHE tool is also qualitative and it has proven to be a reliable tool, giving a qualitative approach for a sustainable assessment and report- ing. Lambrechts and Ceulemans (2013) made a deep SWOT analysis of this tool. AISHE is one of the most complete and complex tools to address sustainability focused on education, but with less interest in environmental management or research (Martins and Borges, 2015), and the new version AISHE 2.0 tackles this deficit (Roorda et al., 2009). SAQ tool (Sustainability Assessment Questionnaire) was de- veloped by University Leaders for a Sustainable Future (ULFS, 2009). It is a qualitative tool designed for the evaluation of the various ob- jectives of universities: to raise awareness about the sustainable de- velopment, to encourage debate on what sustainability in HEIs means, to give a picture of the state of sustainability in the institution, and to discuss about next steps towards sustainability. SustainTool (Pro- gram Sustainability Assessment Tool) was developed by Washington University (2013) and focused on program. Yet it has a vague con- cept of these program, since it integrates indicators and criteria of the whole institution in different contexts, taking into account the concept of program, generically considering different areas.
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Drunken tourism and anomie. There is a type of tourism that basically consists of going to a destination with the intention of getting drunk and breaking all the rules. Called drunken tourism, it is the antithesis of sustainability and when a place witnesses this repeatedly, it leads to a state of anomie—a breakdown of the social structure . Those who do this go about their normal daily lives, observing social norms but then see their holiday as an excuse to break all the rules of society and live out a situation of anomie. It is mainly young people who engage in this kind of behaviour, in their quest to free themselves of the shackles of parents and teachers [8,43]. It creates huge problems among local residents  and leads to verbal and in some cases, physical violence. The Mediterranean area attracts a lot of this type of tourism  and suffers not only real problems between tourists and local residents and authorities but also deterioration in the eyes of the wider world that places it at a disadvantage with regard to the rest of the market . Once this negative image is created, it is difficult to shift, even if efforts are then made to attract better quality tourism. Destinations must be marketed so as to attract the right kind of tourist and those who engage in drunken tourism should be banished.
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The current difficulties that capitalism faces evidence the increasing importance of establishing alternative and complementary indicators that complement the chrematistic ones. This has been a central objective of our research. We believe that the ten presented indicators offer reasonable explanations on the evolution of an economy from the perspective of sustainability. We have argued about environmental aspects, but also about social questions. Both are basic to have more convincing explanations about the trajectory of an economy.
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