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Amidst heightened debate on the relevance and failures surrounding environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting, the challenge to look beyond such disclosures becomes even more important. This is the catalyst for this conceptual paper. The purpose is to develop a stakeholder research framework to understand how ESG reports come about as a result of the interplay between various stakeholders and corporate management. To provide the justification for choosing stakeholder theory as the foundation for the framework, the impetus for the Stakeholder View, social responsibility, and profit motives are revisited. Next, the basic premise and the discourses surrounding stakeholder theory are discussed with a view to propose a research framework that considers the normative, instrumental, and descriptive facets of the theory. Finally, an example of how the proposed framework can be used in a study with three distinct phases is presented. The stakeholder framework enables the implicit embedding of the normative core (ethical/moral aspects) into the managerial perspective (descriptive and instrumental facets) of the theory, thereby allowing greater insights to emerge from the thought processes involved in the decision to provide/not provide ESG disclosures.
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