Nienaber, A./Borgstedt, P./ Liesenkoetter, B./Schewe, G. (2015) Kommunikation von ökologisch nachhaltiger Unternehmensführung im Energieversorgungssektor – Eine qualitativ-longitudinale Analyse zur Transparenz in der Nachhaltigkeitsberichterstattung,  Zeitschrift für Umweltpolitik und -recht, 28 (März) 54-97.


The enegery sector is one of the most important industries regarding the climate
change and thus, of great interest for stakeholders and the wider society. Therefore,
nowadays companies‘ sustainability reports are standard to show ecologically
sustainable behaviour. But how do companies report their ecological engagement?
Are we able to identify a transparent strategy or is „greenwashing“ a rather common
practice? Based on the findings of the legitimacy theory, the voluntary disclosure
theory and Lindblom’s communication approaches, our study analyses the communication
regarding sustainability of the main four companies in the energy sector in
Germany: E.ON, RWE, EnBW, andVattenfall over a time period of fourteen years.The
study’s longitudinal character allows to compare the different sustainability reports
and to identify communication intransparencies over time.We are able to show that
almost all four companies‘ communication has to be improved since several kinds of
intransparency are prominent. Such intransparencies reduce the companies‘ trustworthiness
and thus, should be avoided since a reduced or even broken trustworthiness needs a long time and a huge amount of effort to be regained

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Prof. Dr. Ann-Marie Nienaber
Professor in Human Resource Management and Organisational Behavior

Head of Research Group: Trust and Workplaces

Coventry University, United Kingdom
(Modern University of the Year 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)
Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations