Fifty Shades of Green: Greenwashing and Accountability

(with Pedro Makhoul, Aldo Musacchio, Leandro Pongeluppe and Salil Redkar)

Finalist of the Research Methods Paper Prize at SMS 2021

Winner of the Stakeholder Management IG Best Proposal Co-authored by a PhD Student Award at SMS 2021

This paper examines the conditions that may lead firms to send greenwashed messages to their stakeholders, depending on the location of their operations and the capacity stakeholders have of attributing environmental damage to firms (fuzzy vs. sharp accountability). Using an innovative methodology that combines textual, sentiment, and visual analysis of companies’ annual and sustainability reports, we find that firms operating in contested areas such as the Amazon region have a higher level of environmental reporting, with more emotional content, and more use of shades of green on their reports relative to firms outside those regions. Moreover, we find that firms under fuzzy accountability adopt more deliberate greenwashing practices, while companies under sharp accountability rely on subtle, visual greenwashing of their reports.

Key-words: greenwashing; environmental disclosure; impression management; non-market strategy; ESG.

*Image of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, in 2010.

What do we mean by Corporate Social Irresponsibility? Examining the concept in the literature

(with Thomaz Rocha)

In this paper, we examine the ontological and epistemological properties of Corporate Social Irresponsibility (CSiR), in order to provide an evaluation of its current status as a concept. More specifically, we analyze CSiR definitions, operationalization, related concepts, and empirical evidence in the business and management literature. We find that scholars adopt three different approaches to define CSiR: the stakeholder-based approach, the typification approach, and the reductionist approach. Moreover, our analysis shows that the field of CSiR is being developed with a strong quantitative orientation, and that the phenomenon is explored mostly on the context of large and multinational companies. Based on our findings, we provide a definition of CSiR and recommendations for future research in three main areas: (1) CSiR conceptualization and theory development; (2) methodology and measurement enhancements and (3) exploration of new contexts.

Key-words: corporate social irresponsibility; corporate irresponsibility; corporate misconduct; corporate social responsibility; literature review.