Padmini Patwardhan, Ph.D.


Individualized Studies


College of Arts and Sciences


Interdisciplinary Studies


Sustainability is defined in varying ways by businesses for reasons such as industry, stakeholder expectations, compliance, and other factors. In this case study, three companies, Domtar, Duke Energy, and Nucor, are examined on their approach to reporting and practicing environmental, social, and economic sustainability. Content analysis was used to identify themes in corporate paid, owned, and earned media. Interviews with facility managers were used to understand how management implements sustainable practices on a facility level. This case study examines in detail how these companies use different language, tools, and systems to progress sustainable development in a globalized economy. Results showed that in earned media, companies were socially and economically analyzed and not environmentally, unless responding to a crisis. In owned media, companies organized their sustainability priorities in a way they believed most represented their company. In sustainability reports, the more complicated the business portfolio, the more complicated it becomes to differentiate data sets. On all three reports, the most under-reported pillar of sustainability was environmental. All three companies have a huge ecological footprint and very general data regarding it is reported.