The purpose of this qualitative research was to determine the organizational characteristics that contribute to developing sustainability reports with GRI A+ application levels. Judgment sampling was used to select organizations that received an A+ GRI application level in 2010. These organizations were then surveyed using a fifteen-question survey, which emulated the semi-structured interview questions utilized by Farneti and Guthrie (2007). The survey was disseminated to 107 organizations and the responses were collated and analyzed to determine important themes relevant to this research study. The results of this research study suggest a relationship between an organization’s genuine commitment to sustainability by their leadership and a sustainability report’s compliance level. Furthermore, this research also implies a relationship between the stakeholders’ sustainability expectations and the sustainability report compliance level. The combination of an organization’s leadership expressing a genuine commitment to sustainability reporting, as well as the stakeholder’s expressing expectations for sustainably promotes a sustainability-minded culture within the organization, which facilitates sustainability report production. Also, the compliance level of an organization’s sustainability report is contingent upon the organization’s ability to overcome resource constraints and to recognize the value of the market incentives generated by the development of a sustainability report. The implications of this research provide a global, multi-industry benchmark for organizations struggling with sustainability reporting compliance, government policy-makers, and stakeholders.


sustainability reporting, sustainability, compliance, sustainability report, CSR, corporate social responsibility, organizational structure

Date of this Version



Mechanical Engineering Technology

Department Head

Dr. Kenneth A. Burbank


Master of Science

Head of Graduate Program

Dr. James L. Mohler

Advisor 1 or Chair of Committee

Professor Bruce A. Harding

Advisor 2

Dr. Rodney G. Handy

Advisor 3

Dr. Gareth O'Donnell

Committee Member 1

Professor Bruce A. Harding

Committee Member 2

Dr. Rodney G. Handy

Committee Member 3

Dr. Gareth O'Donnell