University of Oulu

T. Järvinen, J., Laine, M., Hyvönen, T. et al. Just Look at the Numbers: A Case Study on Quantification in Corporate Environmental Disclosures. J Bus Ethics 175, 23–44 (2022).

Just look at the numbers : a case study on quantification in corporate environmental disclosures

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Author: Järvinen, Janne T.1; Laine, Matias2; Hyvönen, Timo2;
Organizations: 1Faculty of Economics, Accounting & Finance, Oulu Business School, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Faculty of Management and Business, Tampere University, Tampere, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.8 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2020
Publish Date: 2021-02-01


This paper sheds further light on the role of quantification in corporate environmental disclosures. Quantification is an inherently social practice, which has attracted a fair amount of academic interest in recent years. At the same time, in the field of social and environmental accounting there is a paucity of research on quantification or the role it plays for organisations, for organisational communication and in societies more broadly. Accordingly, in this paper, we will draw on a qualitative case study to discuss the potential implications that might arise from the use of quantified information in corporate environmental disclosures. Our case study illustrates the diverse effects of quantification suggested in the prior literature by placing them in the context of corporate environmental disclosures. We discuss how quantification implies fake precisionism and promotes commensuration of incomparables, thereby limiting the discussion to themes and questions preferred by company management. We maintain that quantification, while appearing to produce neutral and value-free information, has a substantive ethical dimension through how it implicates accountability relationships as well as the respective power relations between diverse stakeholders in societies.

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Series: Journal of business ethics
ISSN: 0167-4544
ISSN-E: 1573-0697
ISSN-L: 0167-4544
Volume: 175
Pages: 23 - 44
DOI: 10.1007/s10551-020-04600-7
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 512 Business and management
Funding: We wish to acknowledge financial support received for this study from the Academy of Finland and the Finnish Foundation for Economic Education.
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