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The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has successfully become institutionalized as the preeminent global framework for voluntary corporate environmental and social reporting. Its success can be attributed to the “institutional entrepreneurs” who analyzed the reporting field and deployed discursive, material, and organizational strategies to change it. GRI has, however, fallen short of the aspirations of its founders to use disclosure to empower nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). The authors argue that its trajectory reflects the power relations between members of the field, their strategic choices and compromises, their ability to mobilize alliances and resources, and constraints imposed by the broader institutions of financial and capital markets. The authors draw three notable implications from this study. First, institutional theory needs to pay more attention to economic structures, strategies, and resources. Second, institutional entrepreneurship by relatively weak societal groups such as NGOs is inherently constrained by the structural power of wider institutions and by the compromises required to initiate change. Third, the strategies of NGOs represent a form of power capable of shifting, if not transforming, the field of corporate governance.


This is the pre-published version harvested from ArXiv. Published in Business & Society (March 2010): vol. 49, no. 1, p. 88-115:


SAGE Publications, on behalf of International Association for Business and Society


Copyright © 2010 SAGE Publications



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