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Title
The Relevance of Materiality in Sustainability Reporting of Universities / submitted by Klara Pretsch
AuthorPretsch, Klara
CensorGreiling, Dorothea
PublishedLinz, 2017
DescriptionVIII, 76 Blätter : Illustrationen
Institutional NoteUniversität Linz, Diplomarbeit, 2017
LanguageEnglish
Document typeThesis (Diplom)
Keywords (EN)Sustainability Reporting/Materiality
Keywords (GND)Bericht / Universität / Nachhaltigkeit
URNurn:nbn:at:at-ubl:1-19580 Persistent Identifier (URN)
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 The work is publicly available
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The Relevance of Materiality in Sustainability Reporting of Universities [0.99 mb]
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Abstract (English)

Within the last two decades, the numbers of sustainability reports disclosed by the biggest 250 companies in the world increased as well as reports disclosed by universities. Most of these institutions used the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework. Due to this ongoing increase, the numbers slightly dropped in the last few years. One reason might be the added materiality aspect that increases the complexity of sustainability reports. The materiality aspect is the core element of this thesis. Nearly no literature considers the materiality aspects; if they do it is mainly about definitions and the coverage rate of disclosed indicators. Thus stakeholder orientation that should overlap with the meaning of materiality is neglected and results in the research questions und research design.

Through a qualitative content analysis of 33 international sustainability reports of universities, which includes the materiality aspect, it is possible to gain the knowledge which aspects are rated as material by internal and external stakeholders and furthermore a quantitative correlation analysis is possible. This correlation analysis answers, if the materiality aspects are considered in the sustainability reports and if they are linked to the coverage rates. Despite one exception no linkage is found, what means that the sample of universities discloses material aspects, but they do not focus on them, they are part of the general coverage rate. Therefore it can be said that the universities are not stakeholder oriented although it is meaningful if one understand the meaning of materiality and proves the stakeholder theory which is considered as theoretical background. Beside the material aspects it is possible to show the percentage of reported material aspects and gives the hint that stakeholder orientation and focus on their aspects, rated as material is important. Based on these results combined with limitations, two items should be considered in further research. Namely, sustainability reports should become comparable through unified standards or general audits as for financial reports and to ask, if the universities really live the material aspects and not only report them without focusing them in their reports.

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