The Kenneth Mark Drain Chair in Ethics at Trent University

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Sustainability Studies defense on Friday

The Sustainability Studies Graduate Program is pleased to announce the following upcoming M.A. thesis defense:
Geoffrey Eve
"Sustainability Reporting in the Oil Sands: A Narrative Analysis of Energy Company Approaches to Sustainable Development"
Friday, September 14, 2012
11:15 a.m.
Blackburn Hall Room 126, Trent University
All are welcome; seating is limited.
Supervisor: Professor John Bishop
Committee: Professor Stephen Hill, Professor Graham Taylor
External Examiner: Professor Hevina Dashwood (Brock University)
Chair: Professor Kathryn Norlock
Given the lack of public trust and recent notable environmental problems in the Alberta oil sands industry, I have proposed the question: Should the energy industry operating in the oil sands follow and commit to a more normative approach of the natural-resource-based view in their sustainable development strategies, and thereby become more responsible corporate stewards?
Through a narrative analysis of sustainability reports for four energy companies operating in the oil sands, I have discovered that most disclosures of sustainable development are textually conceived to appear as normative motivations demonstrating moral obligations to stakeholders. However, these disclosures are disguising firm instrumental business-as-usual practices. Sustainable development is defined by companies through the natural-resource-based view, where environmental issues can be solved through eco-efficiency practices. I suggest why energy firms may have to change their strategies towards achieving sustainable development in their operations based on a more normative approach, and how to achieve it.
Keywords: Alberta, oil sands, stakeholder theory, legitimacy theory, natural-resource-based view, corporate stewardship, sustainable development, corporate reporting, eco-efficiency, narrative analysis. 

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