The diffusion of the sustainable development goals (SDGs): an examination of preparer perceptions

Gloria Oforiwaa Botchway*, Oliver James Bradley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This paper aims to analyse the adoption of sustainable development goals (SDGs) disclosure via the lens of the diffusion of innovations theory, legitimacy theory and the theory of planned behaviour and presents insights into perceptions held by preparers on their decision to adopt or reject SDG disclosure. Design/methodology/approach: This paper uses a mixed-methods approach, combining content and statistical analysis as well as interviews, to examine SDG disclosure and preparer perceptions. Findings: The analysis reveals low, but growing SDG disclosure. Although SDG disclosure is perceived as relatively advantageous for a variety of reasons, perceptions of incompatibility and complexity may limit diffusion of SDG disclosure. Trialability and observability of SDG disclosure, on the other hand, may support or hinder the decision to adopt or reject SDG disclosure. Research limitations/implications: Findings generated may not be generalisable across all populations. A smaller sample of companies were interviewed. Practical implications: This paper offers insight into attitudes which must be altered if greater diffusion of SDG disclosure is to be achieved by the United Nations 2030 deadline. Social implications: Sustainability reporting (SR) has a pivotal role to play in supporting the achievement of the SDGs, and innovations in accounting and reporting are particularly needed. This paper raises issues that should be considered by both preparers and practitioners, if innovations are to succeed. Originality/value: This paper contributes the application of an underutilised theoretical framework in SR research, the first longitudinal analysis of the diffusion of SDG disclosure to provide evidence of adoption over time and an extension of similar studies on diffusion of reporting innovations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-312
Number of pages24
JournalSustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal
Issue number2
Early online date27 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2023


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