Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to enrich extant understanding of the role of both agency and context in the uptake of sustainability assurance. To this end, the authors examine auditors' attempts to promote sustainability assurance and establish it as a practice requiring the professional involvement of auditors.
Design/methodology/approach: Applying institutional work (Lawrence and Suddaby, 2006) and institutional logics (Thornton, 2002; Thornton et al., 2012) as the method theories, the authors examine interview data and a variety of documentary evidence collected in Finland, a small society characterized by social and environmental values, beliefs in functioning institutions and public trust in companies behaving responsibly.
Findings: With this study, the authors make two main contributions to extant literature. First, the authors illustrate the limits that society-level logics related to corporate social responsibility, together with the undermining or rejected institutional work of other agents, place especially on the political and cultural work undertaken by auditors. Second, the study responds to Power's (2003) call for country-specific studies by exploring a rather unique context, Finland, where societal trust in companies is arguably stronger than in many other countries and this trust appears to affect how actors perceive the need for sustainability assurance.
Originality/value: This is one of the few accounting studies that combines institutional logics and institutional work to study the uptake of a management fashion, in this case sustainability assurance.
- 512 Business and Management
- institutional logics
- institutional work
Sustainable Development Goals
- GOAL 08: Decent Work and Economic Growth
- GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
- GOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
Areas of Strength and Areas of High Potential (AoS and AoHP)
- AoS: Financial management, accounting, and governance
- AoS: Responsible organising