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Voluntary social reporting in three FTSE sectors: a comment on perception and legitimacy

Lookup NU author(s): Professor David Campbell, Dr Barrie Craven


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In examining the effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spillage on corporate social reporting (CSR) in the annual reports of oil companies, Patten (1992) suggested examining companies in other industries and their response to social (e.g. environmental) threats. This paper examines environmental and social reporting in five companies representing three FTSE sectors, selected according to an intuitive understanding of society’s perceptions of their depth of 'sin' or supposed unethical behaviour. Social disclosure data was captured from annual corporate reports between 1975 and 1997. Results suggest that legitimacy theory may be an explanation of disclosure in some cases but not in others. The distorting effects of perception (of legitimacy-threatening factors) and the increase in choices of disclosure media partly explain the mixed results and these factors, we suggest, challenge the usefulness of future ‘annual-report only’ studies.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Campbell DJ; Craven BM; Shrives P

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

Year: 2003

Volume: 16

Issue: 4

Pages: 558-581

ISSN (print): 1368-0668

ISSN (electronic): 1758-4205

Publisher: Emerald Group Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1108/09513570310492308


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