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Corporate social responsibility: a review of Dutch sustainability reports

Santos, Paulo dos (2011) Corporate social responsibility: a review of Dutch sustainability reports.

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Abstract:The past twenty years has been marked by an increase in societal awareness of sustainability issues. This increase in societal awareness has led to societal interest in the activities of firm’s. The result is the emergence of an ongoing dialogue between firms and societal actors, whereby firms communicate their sustainability practice and activities to society. Firms do so using an instrument known as a Sustainability Report. The practice of sustainability reporting using Sustainability Reports has evolved over the last twenty years to become an important channel whereby firms disclose their sustainable practices. In its infancy, Sustainability Reports primarily contained environmental issues. This has changed over the years in the sense that Sustainability Reports also now include financial and social issues. In spite of such developments, the practice of disclosing sustainability practice remains voluntary. An implication of this voluntary practice is that little is known about factors that actually influence the choice of what to disclose in Sustainability Reports. This research examines this shortfall in the current understanding of sustainability reporting. To that end, it is the objective of this thesis to assess the extent to which a firm’s resources (employees, revenue and international operations) influence its reporting practices. This is addressed in thirty two Sustainability reports from Dutch organizations using the methodology of content analysis. To address the objective of examining the effect of firms’ resources on reporting patterns, a comparison is made of companies of different sizes. The outcome of this analysis shows that a firms’ reporting practice is not directly influenced by its resources. Rather, it was observed that most of firms did not want to deal with sensitive issues (such as bribery). It was further observed that firms did not indicate any future content of their reporting practice. This thesis thus concludes that sustainability practice, while it is intended to gear current business practices toward a future orientation, is in fact merely an ongoing dialogue on current affairs. The analysis found little evidence of the future orientation of current business practices. This is thought to be due to the voluntariness of reporting, and a consequence of a framework to follow in Sustainability Report. While the thesis sought to contribute to the literature on CSR with regards to the extent to which firms resources have on their reporting practices, there was little evidence to show that this was actually the case. The contribution of this thesis is that different measurements of size gave different indication on reporting pattern.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:Business Administration MSc (60644)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/63009
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