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Title: Gemeentelijke duurzaamheidsverslagen. Publiceren Nederlandse gemeenten en waarom (niet)?
Authors: Straten van der, MLJW
Keywords: Sustainaibility reporting
annual report
Issue Date: 1-Sep-2016
Publisher: Open Universiteit Nederland
Abstract: Sustainability reporting has been topic of scientific research for years and has mainly focussed on the profit sector. Also the public sector is an interesting area for research on sustainability reporting. Looking at sustainable development, the public sector can compensate where markets (profit sector) fail, and the public sector is able, in certain occasions, to influence sustainable development directly. Furthermore international organizations like the EU have advised that the public sector takes responsibility for sustainable development and provides information about it. So far it has never been studied whether and to what extent Dutch municipalities publish sustainability reports, which motivations apply and whether the determinants (size and political colour) influence publishing a sustainability report. Purpose of this study is to explore the abovementioned topics in order to get an enriched insight in how sustainability reporting among Dutch municipalities can be promoted. Further this study provides additional insight in the theoretical motives for voluntary sustainability reporting. For Dutch municipalities there is no legal obligation to publish a sustainability report. Voluntary sustainability reporting can be explained by the following 4 theories: 1. Legitimacy theory: organizations experience a social contract with the society that provides the organization with a reason for existence. Part of this contract is the impact of the organization in the social and environmental field. An organization can publish information in order to compensate negative impact; 2. Institutional theory: internally in organizations it has become a normative thing to publish a sustainability report; 3. Stakeholder theory: organizations publish a sustainability report in order to meet stakeholders’ expectation; 4. Signaling theory: using a sustainability report, a signal is given by an organization that the organization is positively different from comparable organizations. Together the Dutch municipalities comprise a substantial sector. Dutch municipalities are active in the field of sustainability and have mandatory tasks in the field of sustainability. Sustainability reporting can be implemented in the following ways: • A separate report; • Assigning a programme and or paragraph in the budget an annual report; • Process sustainability topics in the budget and annual report; • Publish sustainability information on the website; • Publish an interactive sustainability report on the website; • Via minutes of meeting of the board; • Operation plans. This study was carried out via desk research, questionnaires and statistical tests Municipalities publish an online sustainability report to a limited extent (17%). Assigning a programme and or paragraph on 2014 is done by 15% of the municipalities. Those municipalities that do not publish a report neither assign a programme and or paragraph, process sustainability topics in the annual report. This applies to 68% of the non-reporting municipalities. The size of municipalities (in both the number of inhabitants as the budget of operating costs) appears to be a determinant for publishing an online sustainability report. On an average base, municipalities that do publish a sustainability report, are bigger than municipalities that do not. The most important motive for municipalities to publish a sustainability report is to communicate to stakeholders that the municipality is concerned with sustainable development. This is in line with stakeholder theory. The most important motive to not publish sustainability reports is that it requires too much time and effort. The following limitations are applicable to this study. The inventorisation is carried out in this particular moment of time, looking back for 5 years. Where the political colour is determined in 2016. The motives found must be seen in the light of a response to both questionnaires of 15%. For municipalities it is recommended to implement sustainability reporting using the annual report, whereby the step to integrated reporting can be taken. Directions for further research may be a content analysis of which sustainability topics are reported by municipalities and which internal factors play a role on producing sustainability reporting.
Appears in Collections:MSc Management Science

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