The Triple Bottom Line: Reporting tool or reflexive framework? - An employee perspective on Corporate Responsibility in practice
Abstract: Purpose: In the context of contemporary organisational challenges regarding Sustainable Development, our inquiry’s purpose is to contribute to a deeper understanding of what it means for employees to work with the Triple Bottom Line (TBL) in the practical and local context of a global pharmaceutical company’s sustainability strategy. Research question: Our study is led by the research question “how do the employees of a global pharmaceutical company perceive and give substance to the Triple Bottom Line in a local context?”. Method: Using an interpretivist approach, we investigate the TBL within GlobalPharma by revealing the perceived reality of employees in working with this concept. We explore how they interpret and give substance to the concept of TBL in relation to their function. This study is based on semi-structured interviews with thirteen respondents from different countries. Findings: Our main empirical finding suggests that employees use the TBL as a reflexive framework to find purpose in their work. We contribute to the literature on Corporate Responsibility by showing that the TBL in practice is more than a reporting tool, which is how the TBL is commonly understood. On this basis, we argue that the criticism of the TBL as a reporting tool is partly misdirected. This as the TBL can help employees to make sense of their work and their company’s higher societal purpose in relation to its commercial needs.
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