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Keywords:

  • communication;
  • corporate environmentalism;
  • corporate reports;
  • sustainability;
  • sustainable development

ABSTRACT

This paper analyses how the world's largest corporations communicate about sustainability and sustainable development in their non-financial reports. It investigates the concept use, definitions and attempts at operationalization, and the rationales that corporations give to engage with them. It is concluded that the corporations typically opt to treat sustainability and sustainable development as given and unproblematic instead of addressing the fundamental problems of today's practice or the dilemmas of the concepts. The most striking finding, however, is that so many of the corporations no longer argue that they are on a ‘journey’ towards sustainability, but that they have already integrated sustainability principles and that they have worked like this for years. Such arguments arguably inhibit the change in business models that many commentators call for. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.