Trade associations as corporate social responsibility actors: an institutional theory analysis of animal welfare in tourism


In this article we argue that most travel trade associations ignore their responsibility towards sustainable development broadly and animal welfare in particular. We analyse the development and implementation of animal welfare standards across 62 national and international associations using interviews, surveys, content analysis of published materials and websites. We found that only 21 associations mention sustainability in their websites, and only six refer to animal welfare. Of these, three associations have well-developed animal welfare activities (ABTA, ANVR and GSTC) and only one (lightly) monitors its members’ sustainability and animal welfare standards (ANVR). ABTA’s Animal Welfare Guidelines are the de facto industry standard, despite being designed for information (not auditing) purposes and lacking enforcement mechanisms. We examine jolts that prompt some associations to respond to external pressures and the institutional entrepreneurship process that triggers a process of reflexivity, theorisation and diffusion of a broader sense of responsibility. We examine the field-level conditions that lead to mostly mimetic pressures on large European tour operators (that compel them to act due to reputational risk management), with minimal normative pressures that would diffuse animal welfare practices across other association members. Change is not divergent, and the resources allocated to animal welfare protect trade associations’ members from criticism without binding them to implementation.

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The full reference is: Font, X., Bonilla-Priego, M.J. and Kantenbacher, J. (2019) Trade associations as corporate social responsibility actors: An institutional theory analysis of animal welfare in tourism, Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 27(1) 118-138.