Harmonization of sustainability reporting regulation: analysis of a contested arena

Hammed Afolabi, Ronita Ram, Gunnar Rimmel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents the case for the sustainability reporting field as a contested arena and examines the behavior and the influence of the various actors, such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC), and the European Commission, including the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG) and the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Foundation in influencing the shape of the regulation in the arena. Drawing on the arena concept and documentary analysis, this study explores the dynamic in which each actor is attempting to change the rules within the arena and how this contributes to the harmonization and future direction of sustainability reporting. The findings of this study show that the actions and behavior of the various actors are premeditated and strategically calculated to maintain their influence, relevance, and defend their technical authority in the arena. The findings also suggest that sustainability reporting regulation is still far away from harmonization due to the perceived hegemony in the arena, and diversity in the overarching objective of the various actors and the inability of each actor to renounce its particular perspective and orientation. Insights are provided for policy makers on the urgent need to decide and reclassify the specific rules required in upholding the sustainability reporting arena.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • arena concept
  • GRI
  • harmonization
  • IFRS Foundation
  • IIRC
  • regulation
  • SASB
  • sustainability reporting


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