How will AI text generation and processing impact sustainability reporting? Critical analysis, a conceptual framework and avenues for future research

Matteo Molinari, Charl de Villiers, Ruth Dimes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ability of generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools such as ChatGPT to produce convincing, human-like text has major implications for the future of corporate reporting, including sustainability reporting. As the importance of sustainability reporting continues to grow, this study aims to critically analyse the benefits and pitfalls of automated text generation and processing.

This study develops a conceptual framework to delineate the field, assess the implications and form the basis for the generation of research questions. This study uses Alvesson and Deetz’s critical framework, considering insight (a review of literature and practice in the field), critique (consideration of the influences on the production and use of non-financial information and the implications for assurers of such information) and transformative redefinition (considering the implications of generative AI for sustainability reporting and proposing a research agenda).

This study highlights the implications of generative AI for sustainability accounting, reporting, assurance and report usage, including the risk of AI facilitating greenwashing, and the importance of more research on the use of AI for these matters.

Practical implications
The paper highlights to stakeholders the implications of AI for all aspects of sustainability reporting, including accounting, reporting, assurance and usage of reports.

Social implications
The implications of AI need to be understood in society, which this paper facilitates.

This study critically analyses the potential use of AI for sustainability reporting, construct a conceptual framework to delineate the field and develop a research agenda.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-118
JournalSustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2024

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