Research Projects

Ruth Hegarty

Current PhD Student

The importance of a Robust and Transparent Framework in Determining the Quality of Corporate Sustainability Reporting

There are many different definitions of the term ‘sustainable development’ but the one regularly quoted is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. This appears to be quite a simple concept and therefore should be quite easily implemented by both individuals and organisations. However, despite nearly three decades of research on the topic, focusing on a range of issues from more definitions, sustainability indicators, the scope of sustainability, the pillars of sustainability, cost implications etc., the actual measurable progress towards sustainability at a global level has been very poor. There has been confusion between sustainability and “greening” activities, and it is widely accepted that sustainability encompasses the three pillars of environment, economics and the social dimension. The real difficulty for individuals and organisations is what does all of this mean?, what are the practical steps that can be taken?, does this require expenditure now to benefit others and what benefit (if any) can be derived for the individual or organisation that truly embraces sustainability. This project addresses these questions and more by means of the following: The Ph.D. programme of research will focus on key sustainability management practices of organisations who have demonstrated significant interest in and progress towards sustainability across a variety of sectors (e.g. financials, industrials, consumer goods, healthcare and technology etc.) in Europe, North America, South America, South Africa, Asia and Australasia. The outcomes from this research project will provide an action framework for organisations to successfully embrace sustainability, accelerate sustainability progress and enhance profitability. The research will outline a comprehensive conceptual model for a sustainable organisation and the key approaches organisations should take to integrate sustainability into core organisation activities. The model will include cutting-edge examples of sustainability programmes (highlighting successful environmental, economic and social initiatives) and key approaches organisations should take to maximise ‘value’ through sustainability initiatives.


Environ 2015