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Materiality: stakeholder accountability choices in hotels’ sustainability reports

Guix-Navarrete, Mireia, Bonilla-Priego, M. J. and Font, Xavier (2019) Materiality: stakeholder accountability choices in hotels’ sustainability reports International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 31 (6). pp. 2321-2338.

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This article examines the choices made by the hotel industry about what to include, and who to be accountable to, in their sustainability reports; a process defined as materiality assessment.


The article is based on the findings of semi-structured interviews with: 1) eight sustainability managers (from eight of the world’s 50 largest hotel groups) to explore their understanding of, and use of, materiality and any barriers to its uptake; and 2) eight industry sustainability experts to assess the general industrywide application of materiality.


Sustainability managers from large hotel groups are evasive when disclosing their materiality criteria, their decision-making processes and how they aggregate stakeholder feedback; they limit their disclosure to the reporting process. Sustainability managers are disempowered, with limited resources, time, knowledge and skills to apply to materiality assessment. Experts confirm that hotel groups are unsystematic and opaque about their decision-making and how they control their materiality assessments.

Practical implications:

Materiality assessment is concealed from the public and may be constructed around business imperatives with high managerial capture. The hospitality industry needs to improve its sustainability reporting, by examining how it defines and applies materiality and by addressing the barriers identified, if it is to demonstrate an enduring commitment to sustainability and organisational legitimacy.


This article addresses the limited knowledge of how hotel groups undertake materiality assessments. It identifies gaps in the conception and application of materiality by pinpointing barriers to its uptake and recommending areas in need of further research.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > School of Hospitality and Tourism Management
Authors :
Bonilla-Priego, M. J.
Date : 10 June 2019
DOI : 10.1108/IJCHM-05-2018-0366
Copyright Disclaimer : © 2019 Emerald Publishing Limited
Uncontrolled Keywords : Sustainability reporting; Materiality assessment Transparency; Accountability; Hospitality industry
Depositing User : Users 6648 not found.
Date Deposited : 06 Feb 2019 11:39
Last Modified : 20 Jul 2020 11:35

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