The significance of the transparency benchmark on sustainability reporting in the Netherlands

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By using the evaluation methodology, this thesis will investigate the significance of the transparency benchmark on sustainability reporting. The transparency benchmark is created by the Ministry of Economic Affairs of the Netherlands to increase the focus on sustainability. Although this goal is admirable, it is problematic because of the multiple definitions of the concept of sustainability and several critical issues for reporting on sustainability stated in literature. This thesis highlights these issues in the theoretical framework and evaluates the criteria of the benchmark according to these issues. Furthermore, the outcome evaluation of the benchmark performed by B&A is analyzed and finally a policy expert from the transparency benchmark is interviewed for clarification of remaining issues. The evaluation shows that, although the transparency and the focus on sustainability in companies and business sectors improved significantly since its introduction in 2004, the benchmark is not able to resolve several critiques from literature as defining sustainability, window dressing and the lack of concrete results on sustainability in the sustainability report. The conclusion is that the benchmark has significant influence on sustainability reporting in the Netherlands, but improvement is certainly necessary for the benchmark to stay beneficial in the future.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen