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CPA-AGRC Distinguished Speaker Series and TRSS - Carol Adams and Frank Mueller Greener

Conceptualizing corporate engagement with the Sustainable Development Goals: An institutional logics approach

Date & Time

November 10, 2022


Online - Link provided in reminder email the day before the event


Kathy Cunningham

In conjunction with the Telfer Research Seminar Series

***M.Sc. Students, this event can count towards one of the six mandatory Research Seminars Series needed to attend (MHS6991 or MGT6991).***

Carol Adams, Subhash Abhayawansa and Frank Mueller, PhD

Our purpose is to develop a conceptualisation of different levels of organisational engagement with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

An initial conceptual framework is developed from the accounting, business sustainability and institutional logics literatures. All 62 publicly available reports issued between 2016-2019 of ten organisations claiming to be active on the SDGs are critically analysed with respect to institutional logics and interpretive schemes concerning value creation, sustainability, and the intersection of the SDGs with risks and opportunities, strategy, and the business model. Additional data was collected through interviews with participants in each organisation and media reports through FACTIVA.  

We identify two conflicting institutional logics, namely the shareholder institutional logic and the sustainability institutional logic. In terms of results, our evidence suggests that this conflict plays out differently for different organizations: some move faster towards a sustainability institutional logic, some are in between, some are more stuck with the shareholder institutional logic which remains dominant. This means that we cannot ignore the organizational level of analysis in order to ascertain the reality of new and old institutional logics. 

This paper extends our understanding of the organizational reality of how a new institutional logic of sustainability can possibly (or perhaps not) replace an established shareholder institutional logic. It has implications for sustainability reporting standard setters and regulators and organisations seeking to engage with the SDGs and contribute to sustainable development.

About the Speakers Carol Adams

Professor Carol Adams MSc PhD CA FAICD is an internationally recognised researcher in corporate accounting and reporting and its role in the relationships between business, society and the environment. She is founding editor and Editor-in-Chief of the Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal.



Frank Mueller Prof. Frank Mueller is a Professor in Accountability, Organisations & Strategy at Durham University Business School. He earned his DPhil from Oxford University, and holds a first class degree from Konstanz University. He has previously worked at Newcastle University, the University of St Andrews, Leicester University, Royal Holloway University of London, Aston University, London Business School and Oxford University.

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