The diffusion of sustainability key performance indicators in a developing country context

Prabanga Thoradeniya, Aldónio Ferreira, Janet Lee, Rebecca Tan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Drawing upon Abrahamson's (1991) typology of innovation diffusion, this study aims to investigate the factors underpinning diffusion of sustainability key performance indicators (SKPIs) in a developing country. Design/methodology/approach: A qualitative study was conducted in Sri Lanka involving semi-structured interviews with managers, as users of SKPIs (demand-side), and both consultants and academics, as agents in diffusion process (supply-side). Findings: Diffusion of SKPIs was found to be driven by efficient-choice considerations, with fashion motives intertwined with these. The diffusion was influenced by developing country context issues relating to market competition, education, government and culture. It was somewhat surprising that market forces played a key role to the extent they did. Minimal stakeholder pressure was found to undermine the diffusion process, contrasting with developed countries in which key stakeholders act as catalysts. The developing country context appears to slow down the pace, rather than alter the pattern, of diffusion of SKPIs. Research limitations/implications: This study is limited by its focus on SKPI adopters, which does not permit to draw insights regarding motivations of non-adopters. Originality/value: This study draws upon Abrahamson's typology to explore the diffusion of SKPIs in the poorly understood developing country context. The findings provide insights into driving forces behind diffusion of SKPIs, suggesting the developing country context creates “stickiness” that influences pace rather than the pattern of diffusion of SKPIs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1246-1274
Number of pages29
JournalAccounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Developing country
  • Diffusion of innovation
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sustainability KPIs

Cite this