Sustainability and Environmental Reporting Assurance - The Adoption of Materiality and Completeness in SERA Practice
: An Actor-Network Theory Analysis with the fieldwork conducted in India – an Emerging Economy

  • Flavia Rodricks

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Business Administration


[Doctor of Business Administration] Materiality assessment in SERA using stakeholder logic and stakeholder engagement in the SERA process is complex and difficult to problematise and conceptualise, but they are the central premises of appointing external assurors to give credibility to sustainability and environmental reporting (SER). This study investigates how materiality assessment and stakeholder inclusiveness in SERA are operationalised using a new perspective where the researcher engaged with a wide array of stakeholders besides accounting and non-accounting assurors as recommended in the literature where mostly secondary evidence was analysed. The uniqueness of this study is the consideration of non-human actants along with human actors where no a priori assumptions are made of any human or non-human actor having more power in the network. Giving voices to both human and non-human actants, tracing the connections and relationships in the sociology of associations formed to perform SERA, and the need to reassemble the social is the central focus of this study.

This study used a qualitative approach to collect data and conducted a field study using semi-structured interviews to engage with research participants and review documents before and after the interviews. Actor-Network Theory was drawn upon extensively at every stage of the research study to guide the researcher in answering the research questions. This study engaged with a wide array of stakeholders and interpreted their lived experiences and interpretations. This study chose India to collect the empirical data as it is an emerging economy and India has advanced in sustainability/integrated reporting and has even mandated it in the form of BRSR from the financial year 2022-2023. India is progressing in integrating societal governance and environmental performances with traditional economic and financial reporting, although slower than their Western counterparts. With a significant amount of reporting being done, and as an emerging economy in the world and with globalization, the importance of sustainability and environmental reporting in India is gaining more focus.

The main findings bring out the need for assurors to assess materiality and consider stakeholder logic in this assessment. The indirect SER impacts which are not obvious should not be excluded in determining SERA materiality to enhance the credibility of SER and SERA statements. Determining the scope of SERA, qualifications of assurors, management report, internal assurance, and boundary objects are the other major findings that were unwrapped in this study.
Date of AwardDec 2022
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorIlias Basioudis (Supervisor), Melina Manochin (Supervisor) & Muhammad Al Mahameed (Supervisor)


  • reassembling the social
  • materiality
  • stakeholder engagement
  • non-human actant
  • boundary objects
  • tracing of associations
  • heterogeneous flat associations

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