Sustainability now? Lets wait and see!

Wait-and-see-ism as partial adoption of management practices: The rise and stall of integrated reporting

Christoph Endenich, Rüdiger Hahn, Daniel Reimsbach & Christopher Wickert
ESSEC Business School / Heinrich-Heine University Düsseldorf / Radboud University Nijmegen / Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam


Integrated reporting has widely been promoted as the next evolutionary step in corporate disclosure, which would soon replace traditional reporting practices. Embedded in a zeitgeist that favors sustainability, this outlook would suggest high integrated reporting adoption rates among reporting organizations. Our analysis of integrated reporting in Germany from 2008 to 2019 shows, however, that organizations approached integrated reporting with a wait-and-see mentality. This approach cannot be described adequately by the existing conceptualizations of (partial) practice adoption. We therefore develop the notion of wait-and-see-ism, defined as the deliberate and potentially long-lasting postponement of a decision to adopt a practice while its further development is monitored silently. We see limited, though continuous, efforts to prepare for the prospect of adopting the practice of integrated reporting quickly at a later stage. Wait-and-see-ism expands on prior work on partial adoption by emphasizing its temporal dimension. This adds an important yet undertheorized option that organizations can employ to respond to ambiguous institutional demands, thus explaining the stalling of promising management practices.

Endenich C, Hahn R, Reimsbach D, Wickert C (2022). Wait-and-see-ism as partial adoption of management practices: The rise and stall of integrated reporting. Strategic Organization. doi:10.1177/14761270221078605

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