Research into the possible effects of new and emerging information technology on the delivery and consumption of environmental information in businesses

  • Maria Mora Rodriguez

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisEngineering Doctorate (EngD)


One of the greatest challenges faced by modern businesses is being able to achieve industrial progress while reducing environmental impact. Paradoxically, it is also one of the largest opportunities for businesses in a global economy.
There is a growing belief among investors, governments, and the public at large that organisations have the responsibility to account for their impact on the environment and society. This has resulted in companies publishing documents such as corporate social responsibility or sustainability reports that disclose financial, social, environmental and governance information to their stakeholders. However, the quality of the non-financial information contained in such reports is varied and often considered of questionable value.
This thesis focuses on (1) what can be done to encourage more robust corporate reporting to drive positive environmental change in companies, and (2) how better-informed decisions can be facilitated in future investments, policy-making and consumption.
This thesis is framed in an EngD programme and presents three types of studies:
(1) Corporate reporting and the effectiveness of disclosure based on prior work study research and qualitative market research with stakeholders;
(2) Envisioning how to evolve corporate reporting so that environmental issues are considered in decision making, thereby allowing current challenges to be overcome and creating new opportunities;
(3) Solution-driven studies for building an efficient and useful corporate reporting template using Semantic Web technologies, reporting standards and Artificial Intelligence techniques.
This research contributes to knowledge in several ways: it presents insights from the market; identifies key corporate reporting features (drivers, constraints, improvements and impacts); proposes best practices; and builds technical solutions. Much of the work focuses on tackling the challenges of better data standardisation, data connectivity, and data integration with applications in complex corporate information. The intention is to provide material to promote the implementation of this work and further research.

The results of this thesis are also providing the groundwork for a number of corporate reporting working groups and task forces led by organisations like the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), Financial Reporting Council (FRC), Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), The Spanish Association of Accountants (AECA), XBRL International, XBRL Europe and XBRL Spain. At the same time, we are encouraging a closer collaboration between reporting initiatives and technical communities, as well as the evolution of reporting standards, such as XBRL standards, to better support environmental reporting needs.
Date of Award23 Jan 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorChris W Preist (Supervisor)

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