Good business? The struggles for regulating ESG disclosure
Oñati Socio-Legal Series
Oñati International Institute for the Sociology of Law
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
During the last decade, the regulation of corporate social and environmental disclosure and reporting has gradually but steadily emerged. What explains its emergence at different levels of regulation and through varying modes of governance? Which political and socio-economic actors are involved? Who has benefitted from its emergence? The onset of the current economic and sustainability crisis has shown the need for a more ‘regulated capitalism’ and called for a re-assessment of dominant ideas about ‘CSR’ and ‘corporate governance’. Better transparency and disclosure have often been indicated as a solution to this impasse. The paper focuses on the emergence of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) disclosure regulation in Europe during the last decade. It is organized in four main sections. After introducing the argument within the literature on the regulation of corporate accountability, the second section offers an historical overview of the recursive emergence of environmental and social disclosure regulation. Thereafter, the paper briefly reviews the current debate over the regulation of ESG disclosure. In particular, it outlines the interests of the main constituencies involved at the EU-level: large corporations, institutional investors, trade unions, NGOs, professional accountants and financial analysts, public authorities. The last part develops an argument suggesting the current emergence of ESG disclosure regulation constitutes an institutional investors’ strategy to strengthen, on the one hand, their control over managers and, on the other hand, the legitimacy of their claims over companies resources.
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Article presented at the Conference on The Social Economy. Corporate Responsibility, Private Property & Partnerships. Workers' Rights and Cooperatives, held at the International Institute for the Sociology of Law, Oñati, Spain, and as part of the Summer Courses Programme of the UPV/EHU, 6-8 July 2011.
Vol. 3, pp. 1 - 23
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