Edited by Subhash C. Jain and Ben L. Kedia
Chapter 6: The Global Reporting Initiative: Collaboration and Conflict in the Development of Non-Financial Reporting
David L. Levy and Halina Szejnwald Brown INTRODUCTION The founders of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Bob Massie and Allen White, faced a daunting task: how would two individuals, located in two small Boston-area NGOs and without access to formal authority or substantial resources, create a framework for social and environmental reporting that would come to be embraced by more than half of the S&P 100 companies, and be recognized as the leading global framework for non-financial reporting? We argue that the entrepreneurs Massie and White served as a contemporary Modern Prince, a political agent who transforms systems through effective leadership, skillful analysis and strategy, and developing organizational capacity (Levy and Scully, 2007). The Modern Prince exercises a form of strategic power to navigate the contested terrain, to project moral and intellectual leadership, and ultimately to reconfigure the field. The GRI is widely seen as the leading standard for voluntary corporate reporting of environmental and social performance worldwide. It has been very successful since its modest inception in 1999, adopted by large numbers of companies in multiple countries, and garnering widespread legitimacy (Brown, de Jong, and Lessidrenska, 2009; Brown, de Jong, and Levy, 2009; Etzion and Ferraro, 2010). It has attained official recognition by governmental agencies and multilateral organizations such as the UN in its Global Compact (Bair, 2007; Dingwerth, 2007). The founders of GRI, acting as ‘institutional entrepreneurs’, promoted a vision of a multi-stakeholder process with broad and shared benefits. The founders expected that GRI would shift the...
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