Legitimizing gambling businesses’ negative aspects in sustainability reports : A qualitative study of sustainability reports
Sammanfattning: Sustainability is a highly relevant and debated topic. More companies disclose sustainability information and in 2017 it became mandatory for larger companies in Sweden to prepare a sustainability report. Some industries are considered more or less socially accepted. One industry that suffers legitimacy problems due to its business’ nature is the gambling industry. The gambling industry is associated with social issues, gambling addiction, corruption, and money laundering, which can be considered problematic from a legitimacy perspective. This study intends to increase the understanding of how Swedish gambling companies communicate negative aspects through sustainability reporting and what role sustainability reporting has in controversial industries, such as the gambling industry. The study was conducted by a combination of an analysis of sustainability reports from Swedish gambling companies and interviews with audit professionals. The combination of different data sources intends to give a broad perspective and a deeper understanding for how negative aspects are communicated and the role of sustainability reports. The study finds that there is a clear pattern in how different legitimation strategies are used when disclosing certain negative aspects. This study also finds that sustainability reporting is considered as a communication tool even in controversial industries where manipulation is said to occur frequently.
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