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      Academics and policymakers at odds: the case of the IFRS Foundation Trustees’ consultation paper on sustainability reporting

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      Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal
      Emerald

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          Abstract

          Purpose

          This paper aims to examine the nature of academic engagement with policy and the (lack of) responsiveness by policymakers to the scientific community through the development of the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Foundation Trustees’ Consultation Paper on Sustainability Reporting (IFRS Foundation, 2020).

          Design/methodology/approach

          The 577 submissions to the IFRS Foundation consultation were reviewed, and 39 were identified as being submitted by academics. These 39 included collectively 104 academic signatories from 74 organisations or networks and 20 countries. They were analysed using NVivo. Drawing on the literature on techniques used to discredit or credit arguments, we examine the academic responses to the consultation questions, particularly those concerning: the role of the IFRS Foundation; perceptions of the “investor perspective”; the audience for reporting; the definition of materiality; and a climate first approach.

          Findings

          The majority (72%) of academic submissions were opposed to the IFRS Foundation Trustees’ proposals on key issues. This dissenting majority collectively have substantial research records in sustainability reporting and its outcomes. Those supportive were significantly less likely to reference research or state their credentials and, despite being supportive, nevertheless raised concerns with the proposals.

          Practical implications

          Senior academics undertaking research in the field have engaged, in unusually high numbers, with a policy development they believe will not work and maybe counter to achieving sustainable development. The findings underscore the importance of highlighting the discrediting strategies and tactics used in this discursive “battle”. The findings have implications for the legitimacy of policymakers on sustainability-related initiatives which are not engaging with the relevant scientific community.

          Social implications

          Policy initiatives that are judged as potentially harmful to sustainable development attract more intense, activist and sustained engagement supported by research evidence.

          Originality/value

          The paper identifies the importance of evidence-based academic engagement and highlights strategies that engaging academics need to persist over. It highlights the collective view of academics in the field on the IFRS Foundation consultation paper.

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          Most cited references39

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          Logics in Action

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            Social, environmental and sustainability reporting and organisational value creation?

            Rob Gray (2006)
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              Clarifying the Meaning of Sustainable Business

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal
                SAMPJ
                Emerald
                2040-8021
                2040-8021
                May 17 2022
                October 13 2022
                May 17 2022
                October 13 2022
                : 13
                : 6
                : 1310-1333
                Article
                10.1108/SAMPJ-10-2021-0436
                7bef4259-0190-4285-aeca-5b5b463337b8
                © 2022

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