The emergence and future development of Corporate Social Disclosure in Ireland: The perspectives of Non-Governmental Organisations

Tags: Ireland, Accountability Journal, cent, Accounting, respondents, Corporate Social Responsibility, Mann Whitney, O'Dwyer, Environmental Disclosures, Irish companies, the questionnaire, Environmental Reporting, pp, Social Reporting, perceptions, Corporate Social Responsibility Management, Accounting Ethics, Social Partnership Agreement, Postmodern Management and Organization Theory, Small Scale Social Research Projects, Journal of Business Ethics, Environmental Protection Authority, Social Responsibility, British Accounting Review, Praxis of Social Accounting, Academy of Management Review, Stakeholder Theory, Environmental NGOs, social responsibilities, social development, social partnership, closed questions, economic issues, questionnaire, Irish consumers, company activities, Environmental Accounting, Social Accounting, Prince of Wales International Business Leaders Forum, CSD Dissemination, Preferred Medium, Ethical Corporation, Accountability
Content: THE EMERGENCE AND FUTURE DEVELOPMENT OF CORPORATE SOCIAL DISCLOSURE IN IRELAND: THE PERSPECTIVES OF NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS Dr. Brendan O'Dwyer ** College Lecturer in Accountancy Michael Smurfit Graduate School of Business University College Dublin and Dr. Jeffrey Unerman Senior Lecturer in Accounting The Management Centre King's College University of London and Ms. Elaine Hession PricewaterhouseCoopers Dublin Ireland Accepted for Presentation at the Fourth Asia Pacific Interdisciplinary Research in Accounting Conference 4 to 6 July 2004 Singapore
THE EMERGENCE AND FUTURE DEVELOPMENT OF CORPORATE SOCIAL DISCLOSURE IN IRELAND: THE PERSPECTIVES OF NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS ABSTRACT This paper ascertains and analyses the views of Irish based social and environmental nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) regarding the current and potential adequacy of CSD to meet their information needs, and to help them hold corporations to account. Data was collected by means of a questionnaire survey which was sent to the population of Irish social and environmental NGOs with an interest in issues surrounding CSD. The emphasis on examining NGO perceptions represents an attempt to fill a research gap in the CSD academic research literature whereby the views of non-managerial stakeholders are largely absent. The paper represents the second phase of a determined effort to examine the adequacy of CSD from the perspective of less economically powerful stakeholders in Ireland and responds specifically to O'Dwyer's (2002) call for research to examine the nature of stakeholder demand for CSD in Ireland in order to inform the future development of Irish CSD practices. The results present evidence of a widespread demand for mandated, externally verified CSD in either the annual report or a separate stand-alone report. This demand is primarily driven by a desire to gain knowledge of companies' commitment to responsible business practices but is also, albeit to a lesser extent, influenced by the perceived ability of CSD to facilitate increased NGO pressure on companies. Current CSD practice is viewed negatively with regard to its credibility and sufficiency, as well as the opportunities for engagement with companies it provides, particularly among environmental NGO respondents. While respondents tended to be suspicious of corporate motives for CSD many were optimistic about the potential for NGO engagement with companies aimed at tackling social and environmental issues and improving current CSD practice. Drawing on the survey results, the paper makes some recommendations for future research aimed at improving CSD practice in Ireland and more broadly. 1
THE EMERGENCE AND FUTURE DEVELOPMENT OF CORPORATE SOCIAL DISCLOSURE IN IRELAND: THE PERSPECTIVES OF NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS INTRODUCTION Throughout the 1990s practitioner and academic engagement with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) intensified, with recent indications suggesting this will continue strongly into the 21st century (Elkington, 2001; Ernst and Young, 2002; The FORGE Group, 2002; Gray, 2002; Hopkins, 2002; Logsdon and Lewellyn, 2000; The Observer, 2003; Owen et al., 2001; World Economic Forum, 2002). A considerable part of this engagement has focused on the development of corporate social disclosure (CSD) practices, which have been proposed as a crucial mechanism through which corporations can account for their social, environmental and ethical performance and policies to a variety of stakeholders (Adams, 2002, forthcoming; Crawford, 2002; Deegan, 2002; Gray, 2002; Gray et al., 1997; Owen et al., 2001; Zadek, 2002a, 2002b). While several academic studies have examined the use of CSD from a managerial standpoint regarding communication to external stakeholders (Adams, 2002, forthcoming; Campbell et al., 2003; Deegan and Rankin, 1996; Deegan, et al., 2002; Milne and Patten, 2002; O'Donovan, 2002; O'Dwyer, 2002), there has been a relative absence of studies examining CSD from the perspective of non-managerial stakeholders. The few studies that have considered this issue have been inclined to examine the information needs and views of stakeholders who are relatively economically powerful with regard to particular corporations (Buzby and Falk, 1978; Epstein and Freedman, 1994; Rockness and Williams, 1988; but see, Azzone et al., 1997; Deegan and Blomquist, 2001; Deegan and Rankin, 1997, 1999; Fiedler and Deegan, 2002; Tilt, 1994, 2003). Despite recent calls in the literature for a focus on the voices of and, in particular, dialogue with less economically powerful stakeholders (Calton and Kurland, 1995; Friedman and Miles, 2002; O'Dwyer, 2002; Owen et al., 2001; Owen and Swift, 2001; Swift, 2001; Unerman and Bennett, forthcoming) there remains an almost complete absence of studies published to date which consider the views and expectations of these so-called `secondary' stakeholders (Clarkson, 1995) regarding the provision of CSD (but see, Azzone et al., 1997; Tilt, 1994, 2003). This paper advances an ongoing research agenda addressing this gap in the literature. Its aim is to ascertain and analyse the opinions of a sample of less economically powerful stakeholders regarding the current and potential adequacy of CSD to meet their information needs, and to help them hold corporations to account (see O'Dwyer et al., 2003). In addressing this aim, its objective is to ascertain and analyse the views towards CSD held by leaders of Irish based social and environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which claim to `represent' specific stakeholder groups. NGOs were selected as they often play a crucial role in representing the views of specific groups of less economically powerful citizens (such as people with disabilities or ethnic minorities) or on specific issues such as the environment (The Economist, 2003; The European Commission, 2000; Kovach et al., 2003; Onishi, 2002; SustainAbility, 2003). Hence, they often act to balance the activities and opinions of more economically powerful interests in society (The European Commission, 2000). This survey, which is based on a detailed questionnaire, therefore provides a voice on emerging CSD developments in Ireland to some of these economically marginalised, nonmanagerial stakeholders. 2
This emphasis on examining NGO perceptions marks the second phase of a concerted effort to examine the adequacy of CSD from the perspective of less economically powerful stakeholders in Ireland. The first phase involved a series of intensive, in-depth interviews with leaders of eight of these NGOs which investigated perceptions on CSD and its future development in Ireland (see, O'Dwyer et al., 2003). These interviews were used to inform the survey administered in this study. The paper also responds specifically to O'Dwyer's (2002) call for research to examine the nature of stakeholder demand for CSD in Ireland in order to inform the potential advancement of Irish CSD practices. O'Dwyer (2002) made this call in response to the relative absence and poverty of Irish CSD practice compared to the UK and many other western European countries (see, O'Dwyer and Gray, 1998, O'Dwyer, 2001a, 2003a) The paper proceeds as follows. The following section briefly sketches prior studies of NGO/ pressure group perspectives on CSD. This is succeeded with an outline of our motives for focusing specifically on the perspectives of NGOs in this paper. We then proceed to sketch specific contextual factors in Ireland which are relevant to understanding the perspectives gained in this study. The survey research method is then delineated and this is succeeded with a presentation of the findings emanating from the questionnaire survey. The final section summarises and discusses these findings and concludes with some comments on their implications for the future development of accountable CSD in Ireland and more broadly. PRIOR STUDIES OF USERS OF CSD As noted above, prior survey research into user perspectives of CSD has tended to focus on the views of stakeholders who are relatively economically powerful in relation to specific corporations. For example, Epstein and Freedman (1994) investigated whether individual investors demanded social information and, if they did, what type of information they required, while Buzby and Falk (1978) surveyed mutual fund directors to determine if social information was considered in their investment decisions. Deegan and Rankin (1997), while broadening their focus to include some economically marginalised stakeholders, focused primarily on eliciting the views of shareholders, stockbrokers and representatives of financial institutions on the demand for environmental disclosure while Rockness and Williams (1988) surveyed ethical mutual funds' directors and found a strong demand for many types of social information. Three studies which have focused extensively on the views of NGOs as less economically powerful stakeholders are those by Tilt (1994, 2003) and Azzone et al. (1997). Azzone et al. (1997) found that although environmental reports were required by NGOs there was a significant amount of scepticism attached to their information content. A fear existed that these reports were merely a mechanism designed to detract from `real' issues. NGOs felt that the public had a right to receive environmental information and that this should be reflected in environmental reports. They wished to see evidence that a company had complied with all relevant legislation and required information to assess the performance of a company over time. They also wanted the introduction of some standardisation of the reporting process in order to enhance comparability with differing reporting formats being used to report to different target groups. Tilt (1994) found that pressure groups are users of CSD. 82 per cent of respondents to her survey claimed to have read some type of CSD and 52 per cent actively sought this information. Few of those surveyed deemed the amount of CSD produced to be sufficient. 3
Respondents also felt that legislation regarding disclosure requirements was necessary, however, they also felt that it would be worthwhile to introduce `industry' standards. Tilt's results indicated that CSD in Australia was perceived as lacking in credibility and sufficiency. Tilt repeated this 1994 study ten years later (Tilt, 2003) and found demand for CSD among pressure groups remained very high but that disclosure also remained insufficient. A majority of respondents also viewed CSD practice as lacking credibility and usefulness.1 CSD AND ACCOUNTABILITY TO LESS ECONOMICALLY POWERFUL STAKEHOLDERS Our focus on the views of NGO leaders is motivated by our acceptance of a broad and inclusive definition of stakeholders such as that proposed by Hummels (1998): ... [stakeholders are] individuals and groups who have a legitimate claim on the organisation to participate in the decision making process simply because they are affected by the organisation's practices, policies and actions (p. 1408). We, along with many other social accounting scholars (see, Belal, 2002; Gray and Bebbington, 2000; Gray et al., 1997; Owen et al., 2001; Unerman and Bennett, forthcoming), view CSD as meaningless if it is not anchored within concepts of accountability and democracy centred on the rights, needs and empowerment of all stakeholders upon whom the accounting organisation has an impact, no matter how economically insignificant, powerless, illegitimate and/or lacking in salience (see, Mitchell et al., 1997) some of these stakeholders might be from the organisation's perspective (see, Adams, 2002; Adams and Harte, 2000; Bebbington et al., 1999; Gray, 2000, 2001; Gray and Bebbington, 2000; Gray et al., 1997; Owen and Swift, 2001; Owen et al., 1997, 2001; O'Dwyer, 2001a; Swift, 2001; Unerman and Bennett, forthcoming). Hence, we support arguments promoting comprehensive administrative reforms involving types of CSD which will heighten organisational transparency for all stakeholders, regardless of their economic power (see Owen et al., 1997). We also support demands for accompanying institutional reforms focused on empowering less powerful stakeholders (Friedman and Miles, 2002) by allowing them to participate more directly in organisational decision making in order to hold corporate management to account for their impacts on stakeholder groups (Adams, 2002; Owen et al., 1997, 2001). PRIOR CSD RESEARCH IN IRELAND Recent in-depth studies of CSD practice in Ireland indicate that there has been only a minimal expansion of CSD in this context over the past decade from a very low base (O'Dwyer and Gray, 1998; O'Dwyer, 2001a, 2003a). The quality of much of this reporting has also been criticised (O'Dwyer, 2001a). In order to gain some deeper understanding of the relative absence of reporting practice and quality, O'Dwyer (2002) explored, using a legitimacy theory framework, the motives for CSD presence and absence among senior executives in Irish listed companies. He concluded that while legitimacy concerns may have 1 Recently, Deegan and Blomquist (2001) investigated, using a case study, the influence of one of the major environmental organisations in Australia: the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) on environmental reporting practices in that context and found evidence of changes in the reporting behaviour of certain Australian minerals companies. Fiedler and Deegan, (2002) have also investigated collaborations between the construction industry and four environmental organisations in parts of Australia. 4
initially motivated companies to engage in CSD (however, minimal), it practice was widely perceived as failing to secure a state of legitimacy. Hence, he contended that many Irish companies neglected to engage consistently in CSD due to a perceived negative and suspicious reaction among various report readers. This absence of any substantial development of CSD practice in Ireland over the past decade (see, O'Dwyer and Gray, 1998, O'Dwyer, 2001a, 2003a) has also highlighted an historical lack of attention to, and discussion of, issues surrounding corporate social responsibility in Ireland (Alderson and Kakabadse, 1994; Hoven Stohs and Brannick, 1996, 1999; Murphy, 1994, 1995; O'Dwyer, 2002, 2003b; Roche, 2003). Furthermore, the relative absence of CSD driven by stakeholder engagement exists in stark contrast to developments at the broader economic and social policy level where a stakeholder approach labelled `social partnership' has established a system of social participation which has played a major role in the conduct of Irish economic and social policy since 1987.2 Recent public scrutiny of corrupt business and political practices has, however, served to give voice to concerns surrounding aspects of corporate activity in this context (Canning and O'Dwyer, 2003; O'Dwyer, 2002, 2003b). There are also recent indications that Irish consumers are critical and sceptical of Irish companies' concern for their social responsibilities, and claim these perceptions influence their purchasing choices (Business in the Community Ireland, 2003). Hence, some large Irish companies are now finally considering the development of comprehensive CSD and stakeholder engagement mechanisms and recently PricewaterhouseCoopers launched a corporate social responsibility practice in its Dublin office (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2004). The development of CSD practice is, however, proceeding cautiously as many managers appear reluctant to engage comprehensively in this practice due to the doubts expressed above about its ability to legitimise their current business operations given its perceived potential to engender public scepticism (O'Dwyer, 2002). Notably, external less economically powerful stakeholder voices have not, to date, been to the fore in the ongoing discussions surrounding the development of CSD and CSR. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHOD Questionnaire Design A questionnaire was designed specifically for this study and used primarily closed form questions, with responses requested on either a five point likert scale or through the ranking (on a scale of 1-4) of certain statements. There were 19 likert scale questions out of a total of 21 closed questions included in the questionnaire. An open-ended question was included at the end of the questionnaire in order to capture the full richness and complexity of the perspectives held by the respondents (Denscombe, 1998). The core content of the questionnaire was informed by a series of intensive in-depth, exploratory interviews with leading members of eight Irish social and environmental NGOs. These interviews 2 Social partnership brings together the government and various `social partners', namely, employers' representatives, trade unions, farmers, and the community and voluntary sector for discussions and negotiations on a range of social and economic issues. These partnerships develop National Agreements on future economic and Social development which normally have a three year implementation period. Their inclusive nature is explicitly outlined with the most recent National Agreement aiming to realise a vision for Ireland expressed in terms of: economic inclusion based on full employment, consistent economic development that is socially and environmentally sustainable, and social inclusion and a commitment to social justice and continuing adaptation to change (Department of the Taoiseach, 2003, p. 2). 5
investigated perceptions on CSD and its future development in Ireland (see O'Dwyer et al., 2003). While not specifically referring to Tilt's (1994, 2003) questionnaires, a number of similar issues were addressed. Given the extensive use of likert scales, all statistical analysis was undertaken using non-parametric tests which do not require the assumption that the data be of an interval nature (Moser and Kalton, 1975). The questionnaire commenced with an explanatory paragraph providing a definition of CSD along with some examples of CSD issues that might be covered by companies.3 It was then divided into four main sections. Each section contained a number of questions and addressed the following issues: the extent and nature of respondent demand for CSD; respondent perceptions of current CSD practice in Ireland; respondent perceptions of corporate motives for CSD; respondent perceptions of the nature of their relationship with business entities.4 The questionnaire was pre-tested (Dillman, 1978) among fellow academics and post-graduate students in order to ensure all questions were clear and precise. Individuals were asked to complete the questionnaire, discuss any problems they had encountered and suggest any modifications they felt would make the questionnaire more user friendly. The questionnaire was then pilot-tested by two NGO representatives in order to identify questions that may have been ambiguous or misleading and the content was further revised accordingly. Sample Selection and Questionnaire Administration There is no widely agreed definition of an `NGO'. However, a common view of an NGO is of an organisation that supplies welfare services to disadvantaged groups. NGOs also act as advocacy groups who represent, for example, business interests or trade union rights at International Conferences (Kovach et al., 2003, p. 21). They often play a vital role in representing the views of specific groups of citizens (such as people with disabilities, ethnic minorities) or on specific issues (such as the environment, animal welfare, world trade) (The European Commission, 2000, p.5) and possess the ability to reach the poorest and most disadvantaged and to provide a voice for those not sufficiently heard through other channels. In doing so, they can act to balance the activities and opinions of other more economically powerful interests in society (The European Commission, 2000; Onishi, 2002; SustainAbility, 2003). One definition of an NGO that reflects many of the NGOs surveyed in this study derives from Vakil (1997, p. 2060). It states that NGOs are "private, not-for-profit organisations that are geared towards improving the quality of life of disadvantaged people". This is not all encompassing but does capture some environmental groups through viewing future generations as disadvantaged persons. Our study sought to identify the entire population of social and environmental NGOs in Ireland that could be expected to have a general interest in issues surrounding CSD. We used a variety of sources, including public listings, the Internet and The Institute of public administration Journal (2003) which contained an extensive list of environmental and social NGOs. The latter list was thoroughly examined by two of the authors for applicability to the research project. Applicability to the research project was decided by rating the interest the 3 The definition provided read as follows: Corporate Social Disclosure (CSD) can be defined as the process by which organisations, particularly business organisations, communicate the social and environmental impacts of their activities, products, and services to particular interest groups within society and to society at large. 4 We also included a question which asked the respondent to indicate their role in the organisation and how long they had been working with the organisation. 6
organisations would likely have in CSD. We identified a total population of 53 organisations comprising 35 social NGOs and 18 environmental NGOs. Each organisation was contacted by telephone in order to obtain their co-operation prior to sending the questionnaires. The authors explained the purpose of the study and the reason why the organisation had been selected. We also received the name of a senior contact within the organisation to whom the questionnaire should be addressed (or confirmed our prior identification of this contact) as well as ascertaining the organisation's preference for distribution of the questionnaire i.e. via post or e-mail. The questionnaire, whether emailed or posted, was accompanied with a detailed covering letter addressed to the senior representative explaining the purpose of the research. A stamped addressed return envelope was included with all postal send outs. Questionnaires were sent out in the first week of June 2003. A deadline date of 30 June for return of the questionnaire was stated in the covering letter.5 One week before the deadline date for submission of replies, all non-replying organisations were once again contacted by telephone by the main author. This telephone conversation merely served as a follow-up with the main purpose of ensuring that the questionnaires were returned. On the telephone, the author reminded the representative that the deadline for submission of completed questionnaires was approaching and that he would be extremely grateful if the organisation could facilitate him and return the questionnaire as soon as possible. The organisations that failed to return the questionnaires following the deadline date were once again contacted by telephone.6 RESULTS Response Rates and Tests for Bias Following the final follow up of questionnaires 28 usable questionnaires were returned, resulting in a response rate of 52.8 per cent (see Table 1). This is similar to the response rate achieved by Tilt (1994) while Fowler (1988) notes that a response rate of less than 20 per cent is unlikely to provide credible statistics about a population. To test for response bias, the responses of early and late responders were compared (Moser and Kalton, 1975; Oppenheim, 1966, p.34). For each of the 19 likert scale questions (out of a total of 21 closed questions in the questionnaire), a series of Mann Whitney U tests were conducted for both social and environmental NGO groups. A respondent was deemed to be `early' if the response was received within two weeks of the questionnaire being sent to them, prior to the first reminder phone calls, and late if the response was received after the due date to respond. There were no significant differences in the questionnaire answers between those who responded early when compared to those who responded late for both groups. Despite the limitations of tests such as this (Wallace and Mellor, 1988), these results provide little indication that response bias is a 5 It was felt that this time period would give the organisations ample time to complete the questionnaire and return it. Included in the covering letter were contact details of the two Irish based authors. The NGO representatives were urged to contact either of them if they experienced any difficulties in completing the questionnaire. To help in achieving a higher response rate, we also offered the participants a synopsis of the results of the study. 6 Some organisations failed to return the questionnaire as they indicated that they had more pressing issues and therefore lacked the time. One of the follow-ups resulted in one of the authors being informed that the questionnaire had been mislaid and, in this instance, another questionnaire was forwarded to the organisation. The follow up of organisations continued up until one month following the original deadline of June 30. 7
major threat to the validity of our results. However, we accept that comparisons between respondents and non-respondents "can never prove the absence of bias; at best, they can reassure us that the final sample is not badly out of line" (Moser and Kalton, 1975, p. 182, cited in Deegan and Rankin, 1997). [Insert Table 1 here] The responses received were divided between those received from social NGOs and environmental NGOs. Of the 28 responses, 15 (53 per cent) came from social NGOs and the remaining 13 (46 per cent) came from the environmental NGOs. A greater proportion of the environmental NGOs (72 per cent versus 43 per cent) surveyed responded to the questionnaire (see Table 1). The Nature and Extent of the Demand for CSD Subjects were firstly asked to what extent they would like to see Irish companies engaging in extensive levels of CSD. A five point likert scale with one representing strongly agree and five representing strongly disagree was used. 96 per cent of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed with the suggestion that Irish companies should engage in more extensive levels of CSD. There was a substantial demand for this disclosure to be mandated with 86 per cent of respondents strongly agreeing or agreeing that CSD should be mandatory for all publicly quoted companies and only slightly less (82%) in favour of making it mandatory for large private companies. Azzone et al. (1997) also found this demand for regulation within certain industry sectors among NGOs they interviewed while Tilt's (1994) sample of pressure groups felt legislation, or at least standards, were needed to ensure that companies were disclosing information on their societal impacts. Mann Whitney U tests were carried out to determine if there were significant differences in the views held by social and environmental NGOs. It was found that environmental NGOs were more inclined to agree with the view that CSD should be mandatory for all large privately owned companies. With respect to the other two statements concerning the demand for CSD in Table 2, no significant differences in views were discovered. [Insert Table 2 here] Subjects were also asked to rate their level of agreement regarding the most effective mediums through which CSD could be disseminated. The preferred mediums for the dissemination of CSD were a stand alone social/environmental report produced by the entity and the annual report (see Table 2). Some other mediums of disclosure were also identified as being important and these included media reports and articles, social audited accounts, and separate product information. Tilt (1994) identified the annual report as being the most preferred medium for disclosing information followed by a separate booklet. Azzone et al. (1997) suggested that different reporting mechanisms could be used to address different NGOs. However, they claimed that it was important that the company retain a central `master' document that compiles all appropriate information and is available if required. One NGO representative in our study felt that an account of activities should feature in the annual report with the full details of such presented in a separate stand alone report. This individual indicated that both of these should be available from the company website. Another NGO representative stated that presentation of CSD in the annual report was only beneficial when the information was contained in a specific section of the report and not scattered throughout. 8
The Motives Driving NGO Demand for CSD [Insert Table 3 here] Four key factors which could potentially motivate NGO demand for CSD were outlined and subjects were asked to rank these in their preferred order (see Table 3). These factors were drawn from the in-depth interviews undertaken prior to the questionnaire formulation (see, O'Dwyer et al., 2003). Gaining knowledge of a company's commitment to responsible business practices was ranked highest my almost half (47%) of the respondents while checking compliance of the company to law and regulations relating to social and environmental concerns was ranked first by only 7 per cent of respondents. The diversity in rankings in Table 3 suggests that predominant motives tended to vary among respondents. [Insert Table 4 here] Verification of CSD The interview study brought forth strong views on the need for verification of CSD in order to improve its credibility. The survey results also exposed a strong demand for verification especially from a person or body external to the company. Verification by a social/ environmental auditor was most favoured followed closely by verification by an external body such as an NGO. Half of the respondents either disagreed or strongly disagreed with the suggestion that CSD credibility would be enhanced if a financial auditor was used. Using Mann Whitney U tests, no significant differences in the views of the environmental and social NGOs were found. Current CSD in Ireland [Insert Table 5 here] One section of the questionnaire was devoted to discovering the level of satisfaction that NGOs feel with regard to current CSD in Ireland. This section aimed to discover views on the sufficiency, credibility and usefulness of current CSD to these NGOs. The evidence suggests widespread dissatisfaction with current CSD practice (see Table 5). For example, over 80 per cent of respondents either disagreed or strongly disagreed that current CSD was sufficient and/or credible. Also, 68 per cent of respondents did not perceive ample opportunities and/or encouragement to supply feedback to the producers of CSD. However, given the above, somewhat surprisingly 29 per cent of respondents found current CSD to be in some way useful These findings are similar to those of Tilt (1994) who discovered that pressure groups in Australia viewed CSD as insufficient and lacking in credibility. Using Mann Whitney U tests, we also discovered that environmental NGOs expressed significantly less satisfaction with the credibility and usefulness of CSD and were less likely to agree that ample opportunities and/or encouragement to supply feedback to the producers of CSD was facilitated (see Table 6). [Insert Table 6 here] 9
Corporate Motives for CSD [Insert Table 7 here] Subjects were also asked what they perceived as the primary motives driving current CSD in Ireland (see Table 7). Any notion that CSD might be driven by moral/ ethical or accountability motives was largely discounted. The results indicate that NGOs perceive the primary motive for companies engaging in the process of CSD derives from a desire to be left to their own devices. Hence, a desire to demonstrate `true' accountability to the wider society was not deemed to be a primary motivating factor. This supports the message from organisationally centred research which indicates that corporations engage in CSD for stakeholder management as opposed to stakeholder accountability purposes (see, Belal, 2002; Campbell et al., 2003; Deegan, 2002; Deegan and Rankin, 1997; O'Donovan, 2002; Milne and Paten, 2002;). Over two thirds of respondents felt that CSD was part of a desire on the part of companies to stave off potential regulation while 64 per cent of respondents felt it was primarily motivated by political pressure for enhanced corporate transparency. Over half of the sample felt that it represented a desire to build trust through enhanced public relations. 79 per cent of respondents felt it was influenced to some extent by a desire to divert attention from irresponsible activities. These predominant perceptions of the motives for CSD are consistent with the primarily negative attitudes to current CSD practice among the vast majority of respondents. Using Mann Whitney U tests, no significant differences in the views of the environmental and social NGOs were found with regard to these potential motives for disclosure. The Potential for NGO/ Corporate Engagement in the Future Development of CSD The final section of the questionnaire attempted to inform any attempts at developing CSD in Ireland in the future which would involve, as many International initiatives have, engagement between NGOs and the Irish corporate sector (see Table 8 below). The interviews which informed the formulation of the questionnaire suggested that, in many instances, NGO/corporate relations in Ireland were primarily antagonistic, hence impeding the potential for mutual exchanges on the future development of CSD practice. However, half of our respondents regarded their relationship with business entities as either extremely amicable or amicable while only 11 per cent considered their relationship as antagonistic or extremely antagonistic. [Insert Table 8 here] Furthermore, 86 per cent of respondents felt that NGOs and the Irish corporate sector could work together to effectively tackle social and environmental issues while 75 per cent felt there was the potential for stakeholder groups such as NGOs to be allowed an input into the formulation of CSD reports in the future in Ireland (see Table 9 below). However, just over half of the NGOs do not currently engage in activities to exert influence over the CSD practices of companies despite half of them agreeing that they have the ability to exert significant influence over the actions of companies with a potentially adverse social and/or environmental impact. Using Mann Whitney U tests, no significant differences in the views of the environmental and social NGOs were found with respect to these issues. [Insert Table 9 here] 10
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS Using a questionnaire survey, this paper discovers and examines the perspectives of a sample of Irish based social and environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which claim to `represent' specific stakeholder groups regarding the current and potential adequacy of CSD to meet their information needs, and to help them hold corporations to account. The emphasis on examining NGO perceptions represents the second phase of a determined effort to examine the adequacy of CSD from the perspective of less economically powerful stakeholders in Ireland. The paper responds specifically to O'Dwyer's (2002) call for research to examine the nature of stakeholder demand for CSD in Ireland in order to inform the future development of Irish CSD practices. O'Dwyer (2002) made this call in response to the relative absence and poverty of Irish CSD practice compared to the UK and many other western European countries (see, O'Dwyer and Gray, 1998; O'Dwyer, 2001a, 2003a). Our results present evidence of a widespread demand among respondents for mandated, externally verified CSD in either the annual report or a separate stand-alone report. This demand is primarily driven by a desire to gain knowledge of companies' commitment to responsible business practices but is also, albeit to a lesser extent, influenced by the perceived ability of CSD to facilitate increased NGO pressure on companies and investigations of correlations between their reporting and actions. Current CSD practice is viewed negatively with regard to its credibility and sufficiency, as well as the opportunities for engagement with companies it provides, particularly among environmental NGO respondents. These negative perspectives on practice are broadly consistent with the findings of O'Dwyer and Gray (1998), O'Dwyer (2001) and O' Dwyer (2003) as well as being similar to Tilt's (1994, 2003) findings among pressure groups in the Australian Context. For example, in line with Tilt (1994), 82 per cent of respondents felt that current CSD was not sufficient (compared to 77 per cent in Tilt (1994) and 65 per cent in Tilt (2003)) or credible. The respondents tended to be suspicious of corporate motives for CSD with a majority (82 per dent) perceiving it as being primarily motivated by a desire to stave off potential regulation and/or political pressure through presenting an image of a trustworthy organisation. Tilt (2003) also found evidence of scepticism among pressure group respondents in her recent survey. The demand for mandated reporting contrasts with the recent promotion of voluntary CSD initiatives in Ireland, often by business interests, and may be influenced by the negative perspectives of current CSD practice. These perspectives do, however, largely concur with the views of Gray et al. (1987, 1996) and Parkinson (2003) who emphasise the need for mandatory reporting to improve corporate transparency thereby facilitating pressure from civil actors. Despite the primarily negative perspectives above, respondents were optimistic about the potential for engagement with companies aimed at tackling social issues and improving current CSD practice in Ireland. Only 11 per cent of respondents claimed to have an antagonistic relationship with companies while 50 per cent indicated they had an amicable relationship. NGOs were also overwhelmingly positive about the prospects for companies and themselves to work together to tackle social and environmental issues and formulate CSD reports. However, only half of the respondents felt that they had the power to exert significant influence on companies or indeed attempted to do so. These findings contrast somewhat with evidence of tense relations between NGOs and the Irish corporate sector in O'Dwyer (2002). O'Dwyer (2002) argued that antagonistic relations had partially contributed to the widespread reluctance by many Irish companies to engage in comprehensive CSD. For 11
example, several executives interviewed in his study claimed that they felt engaging in CSD risked placing their head above the parapet only to have it shot off by vigilant and unsympathetic pressure groups such as NGOs. The apparent openness to engagement among many of the respondents to our survey indicates there may be some scope for greater corporate/NGO interaction aimed at improving CSD practice through instigating experiments in administrative reform in this context. Future research needs to establish the openness of the Irish corporate sector to engagement with NGOs on issues surrounding CSD. There is little evidence on corporate willingness to engage with NGOs (see O'Dwyer, 2002) or corporate perceptions of the level of influence NGOs can have on their behaviour and/or disclosure practices. In the Australian context, Tilt (1997) has found that companies do not perceive pressure groups as influential while Deegan and Blomquist (2001) illustrate how one large pressure group successfully influenced Australian minerals industry disclosure practices. However, as indicated above, recent initiatives in Ireland are corporate driven and focused exclusively on promoting the business case for CSD. The issue of stakeholder engagement is beginning to emerge but the focus is very much on key stakeholders with the potential to influence business success (Business in the Community Ireland, 2003). Furthermore, NGOs are only one set of non-managerial stakeholders who may have expectations and perspectives regarding CSD in Ireland. Future research should also examine the perspectives of other non-managerial stakeholders such as trade unions and consumer groups in order to more fully inform any ongoing development of CSD. Finally, it is surprising that despite the relative prevalence of CSD practice in contexts such as the UK and western Europe, there has been little systematic examination of nonmanagerial stakeholder perspectives in these contexts. Future research should commence examining these perspectives in order to ascertain if the relatively advanced developments in these contexts have enhanced accountability to non-managerial stakeholder groups. 12
REFERENCES Adams. C.A. (2002), "Internal Organisational Factors Influencing Corporate Social and Ethical Reporting: Beyond Current Theorising", Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, Vol. 15 No. 2, pp. 223-50. Adams, C.A. (forthcoming), "The Reporting-Performance Portrayal Gap at ICI", forthcoming in ABACUS. Adams, C.A. and Harte, G. (2000), "Making Discrimination Visible: The Potential for Social Accounting", Accounting Forum, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 56-79. Alderson, S. and Kakabadse, A. (1994), "Business Ethics and Irish Management: A CrossCultural Study", European Management Journal, Vol. 12 No. 4, pp. 432-441. Azzone, G., Brophy, M., Noci, M., Welford, R. and Young, W. (1997), "A Stakeholders' View of Environmental Reporting", Long Range Planning, Vol. 30 No. 5, pp. 699709. Bebbington, J., Gray, R.H. and Owen, D.L. (1999), "Seeing the Wood for the Trees: Taking the Pulse of Social and Environmental Accounting", Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, Vol. 12 No. 1, pp. 47-52. Belal, A.R. (2002), "Stakeholder Accountability or Stakeholder Management?: A Review of UK Firms' Social and Ethical Accounting, Auditing and Reporting (SEAAR) Practices", Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, Vol. 9 No. 1, pp. 8-25. Berman, S.L., Wicks, A.C., Kotha, S. and Jones, T.M. (1999), "Does Stakeholder Orientation Matter? The Relationship between Stakeholder Management Models and Firm Financial Performance", Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 42 No. 5, pp. 488506. Buhr, N. (2001), "Corporate Silence: Environmental disclosure and the North American trade agreement", Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Vol. 12 No. 4, pp. 405-21. Buhr, N. (2002), "A Structuration View on the Initiation of Environmental Reports", Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Vol. 13 No. 1, pp. 17-38. Business in the Community Ireland (2003), The First Ever Survey of Consumer Attitudes in Ireland towards Corporate Responsibility, Business in the Community Ireland, Dublin. Boyce, G. (2000). "Public discourse and decision making: exploring possibilities for financial, social and environmental accounting", Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, Vol. 13 No. 1, pp. 27-64. Buzby, S.L. and Falk, H. (1978), "A survey of the interest in social responsibility information by mutual funds", Accounting, Organizations and Society, Vol. 3 No 3/4, pp. 191-201. 13
Calton, J.M. and Kurland, N.B. (1995), "A theory of stakeholder enabling: giving voice to an emerging postmodern praxis of organizational discourse", in Boje, D.M., Gephart, R.P. and Thatchenkery, T.J. (Eds,), Postmodern Management and Organization Theory, Sage, London, pp. 154-77. Campbell, D., Craven, B. and Shrives, P. (2003), "Voluntary social reporting in three FTSE sectors: A comment on perception and legitimacy", Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, Vol. 16 No. 4, pp. 558-581. Canning, M. and O'Dwyer, B. (2003), "A Critique of the descriptive power of the Private Interest Model of Professional Accounting Ethics: an examination over time in the Irish context", Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, Vol. 16 No. 2, pp. 159-185. Clarkson, M.B.E. (1995), "A Stakeholder Framework for Analyzing and Evaluating Corporate Social Performance", Academy of Management Review, Vol. 20 No. 1, pp. 92-117. Crawford, K. (2002), "Publish and be Praised", Ethical Corporation Magazine, Online Version, http://www.ethicalcorp.com/printtemplate.asp?idnum=94, Accessed 9/1/2003. Deegan, C. (2002), "Introduction: The Legitimising Effect of Social and Environmental Disclosures ­ a Theoretical Foundation", Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, Vol. 15 No. 3, pp. 282-311. Deegan, C. and Rankin, M. (1996), "Do Australian companies report environmental news objectively? An analysis of environmental disclosures by firms prosecuted successfully by the Environmental Protection Authority", Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 52-69. Deegan, C., and Rankin, M. (1997), "The materiality of environmental information to users of annual reports", Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, Vol. 10 No. 4, pp. 562-83. Deegan, C. and Rankin, M. (1999), "The Environmental Reporting Expectations Gap", The British Accounting Review, Vol. 31. No. 3, pp. 313-46. Deegan, C. and Blomquist, C. (2001), "Stakeholder Influence on Corporate Reporting: An Exploration of the Interaction between the World Wide Fund for Nature and the Australian Minerals Industry", paper presented at the Third APIRA conference, Adelaide. Deegan, C., Rankin, M. and Tobin, J. (2002), "An Examination of the Corporate Social and Environmental Disclosures of BHP from 1983-1997: A Test of Legitimacy Theory", Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, Vol. 15 No. 3, pp. 312-43. Denscombe, M. (1998), The Good Research Guide: For Small Scale Social Research Projects, Open University Press, UK. 14
Department of the Taoiseach, (2003), Sustaining Progress: Social Partnership Agreement 2003-2005, Government of Ireland, Dublin. Dillman, D.A. (1978), Mail and Telephone Surveys: The Total Design Method, Wiley Interscience, Santa Barbara, CA. Donaldson, T. and Preston, L.E. (1995), "The Stakeholder Theory of the Corporation: Concepts, Evidence and Implications", Academy of Management Review, Vol. 20 No. 1, pp. 65-91. The Economist, (2003), "Living with the Enemy", August 7th. The European Commission (2000), The Commission and Non-Governmental Organisations: Building a Stronger Partnership, Commission Discussion paper http://europa.eu.int/comm/secretariatgeneral/sgc/ong/introduction.htm. Accessed 11 November 2003. Elkington, J. (2001), The Chrysalis Economy: How Citizen CEOs and Corporations can Fuse Values and value creation, Capstone, Oxford. Epstein, M.J. and Freedman, M. (1994), "Social Disclosure and the Individual Investor", Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, Vol. 7 No. 4, pp. 94-109. Ernst and Young, (2002), Corporate Social Responsibility: A Survey of Global Companies, Ernst and Young Environment and Sustainability Services, Australia. Fedйration des Experts Comptables Europйens (FEE), (2002), Providing Assurance on Sustainability Reports, Discussion Paper, Fedйration des Experts Comptables Europйens, Brussels. Fiedler, T. and Deegan, C. (2002), "Environmental Collaborations within the Building and Construction Industry: A Consideration of the Motivations to Collaborate", proceedings of the Critical Perspectives on Accounting Conference, New York, April. Freeman, R.E. (1984), Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach, Pitman, Boston. The FORGE Group, (2002), Guidance on Corporate Social Responsibility Management and Reporting for the financial services Sector, British Bankers' Association and Association of British Insurers, London. Fowler, F.J. (1988), Survey Research Methods, Sage, Beverly Hill, CA. Friedman, A.L. and Miles, S. (2002), "Developing Stakeholder Theory", Journal of Management Studies, Vol. 31 No. 1, pp 1-21. Gilmour, G. and Caplan, A. (2001), "Social Reporting: Sustainability Business ­ Who Cares?", Accountancy, September 1, pp. 44-5. 15
Gray, R.H. (2000), "Current Developments and Trends in Social and Environmental Auditing, Reporting and Attestation: A Review and Comment", International Journal of Auditing, Vol. 4 No. 3, pp. 247-268. Gray, R.H. (2001), "Thirty Years of Social Accounting, Reporting and Auditing: What (If Anything) Have We Learnt?", Business Ethics: A European Review, Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 9-15. Gray, R.H. (2002), "The Social Accounting Project and Accounting Organizations and Society: Privileging Engagement, Imagination, New Accountings and Pragmatism over Critique?", Accounting, Organizations and Society, Vol. 27 No. 7, pp. 687-708. Gray, R.H. and Bebbington, J. (2000), "Environmental Accounting, Managerialism and Sustainability", Advances in Environmental Accounting and Management, Vol. 1, pp. 1-44. Gray, R.H and Milne. M. (2002), "Sustainability Reporting: Who's Kidding Whom?", Chartered Accountants Journal of New Zealand, Vol. 81, No. 6, pp. 66-70. Gray, R.H., Owen, D.L. and Maunders, K.T. (1987), Corporate Social Reporting: Accounting and Accountability, Prentice Hall, UK. Gray, R.H., Owen, D.L. and Adams, C.A. (1996), Accounting and Accountability: Changes and Challenges in Corporate Social and Environmental Reporting, Prentice Hall, Europe. Gray, R.H., Dey, C., Owen, D.L., Evans, R. and Zadek, S. (1997), "Struggling with the Praxis of Social Accounting: Stakeholders, Accountability, Audits and Procedures", Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, Vol. 10 No. 3, pp. 325-64. Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) (2002), Sustainability reporting guidelines on economic, environmental and social performance. Global Reporting Initiative, Amsterdam. Hopkins, M. (2002), "Comment: Corporate Social Responsibility: Is It Worth it?", http://www.ethicalcorp.com/printtemplate.asp?idnum=456, accessed 9 January 2003. Hoven Stohs, J.H. and Brannick, T. (1996), "Irish Managers' Perceptions of Business Ethics", Irish Business and Administrative Review, Vol. 17, pp. 83-93. Hoven Stohs, J.H. and Brannick, T. (1999), "Codes and Conduct: Predictors of Irish Managers' Ethical Reasoning", Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 22 No. 4, pp. 311326. Hummels, H. (1998), "Organising Ethics: A Stakeholder Debate", Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 17 No. 13, pp. 1403-1419. Institute of Social and Ethical Accountability (ISEA) (1999), AccountAbility 1000, ISEA, London, http://www.accountability.org.uk/resources/default.asp?pageid=67, accessed 12 November 2003. 16
Institute of Social and Ethical Accountability (ISEA) (2001), AccountAbility 2000 Consultation Briefing. Institute of Social and Ethical Accountability, London. Institute of Social and Ethical Accountability (ISEA) (2003), AA1000 Assurance Standard,http://www.accountability.org.uk/uploadstore/cms/docs/Assurance%20Stan dard%20for%20Web.pdf, accessed 12 November 2003. Jawahar, I.M. and McLaughlin, G.L. (2001), "Toward a descriptive stakeholder theory: An organisational life cycle approach", Academy of Management Review, Vol. 26 No. 3, pp. 397-414. Jones, T.M. and Wicks, A.C. (1999), "Convergent Stakeholder Theory", Academy of Management, Vol. 24 No. 2, pp. 206-21. Kent, T. (2002), "Conference Report: Business for Social Responsibility Conference, 5-8 November 2002", Ethical Corporation Magazine, Online Version, http://www.ethicalcorp.com/printtemplate.asp?idnum=451, Accessed 9 January 2003. Kovach, H., Neligan, C. and Burall, S. (2003), The Global Accountability Report 2003: Power without Accountability?, One World Trust, London. Logsdon, J.M. and Lewellyn, P.G. (2000), "Expanding Accountability to Stakeholders: Trends and Predictions", Business and Society Review, Vol. 105 No. 4, pp. 19-35. Maitland, A. (2002), "Working from a Shared Platform", The Financial Times, November 29th, p.13. Milne, M. and Patten. D. (2002), "Securing Organizational Legitimacy: An Experimental Decision Case Examining the Impact of Environmental Disclosures", Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, Vol. 15 No. 3, pp. 372-405. Mitchell, R., Agle, B. and Wood, D. (1997), "Toward a theory of Stakeholder Identification and Salience: Defining the Principle of Who and What Really Counts", Academy of Management Review, Vol. 22 No. 4, pp. 853-86. Moser, C.A. and Kalton, G. (1975), Survey Methods in Social Investigation, 2nd Ed. Heinemann Educational Books, London. Murphy, P.E. (1994), "European Managers' Views on Corporate Ethics", Business Ethics: A European Review, Vol. 3 No. 3, pp. 137-144. Murphy, P.E. (1995), "Top Managers' Views on Corporate Ethics", Irish Marketing Review, Vol. 8, pp. 61-72. Neu, D., Warsame, H. and Pedwell, K. (1998), "Managing Public Impressions: Environmental Disclosures in Annual Reports", Accounting, Organizations and Society, Vol. 23, No. 3, pp. 265-82. The Observer (2003), Corporate Social Responsibility. Separate Section, February 2. 17
O'Donovan, G. (2002), "Environmental Disclosures in the annual report: Extending the Applicability and Predictive Power of Legitimacy theory", Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, Vol. 15 No. 3, pp. 344-71. O'Dwyer, B. (2001a), The State of Corporate Environmental Reporting in Ireland, ACCA, 48 pages, London. O'Dwyer, B. (2001b), "The Legitimacy of Accountants' Participation in Social and Ethical Accounting, Auditing and Reporting", Business Ethics: A European Review, Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 27-39. O'Dwyer, B. (2002), "Managerial Perceptions of Corporate Social Disclosure: An Irish Story", Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, Vol. 15 No. 3, pp. 406-36. O'Dwyer, B. (2003a), "The Ponderous Evolution of Corporate Environmental Reporting in Ireland: Recent Evidence from Publicly Listed Companies", Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, Vol.10 No. 2, pp 91-100. O'Dwyer, B. (2003b), "Conceptions of Corporate Social Responsibility: The Nature of Managerial Capture", Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, Vol. 16 No. 4, pp. 523-557. O' Dwyer, B. and Gray, R.H. (1998), "Corporate Social Reporting in the Republic of Ireland: A Longitudinal Study", Irish Accounting Review, Vol. 5 No. 2, pp. 1-34. O'Dwyer, B., Unerman, J. and Bradley, J. (2003a), "Stakeholder Perceptions of Corporate Social Disclosure in Ireland: A Story of Antagonism, Powerlessness and Poor Practice", paper presented at the International Congress on social Accounting, University of Dundee, September. Oppenheim, A.N. (1966), "Questionnaire Design and Attitude Measurement", Heinemann, London. Onishi, N. (2002), "Nongovernmental Organisations show their Growing Power", The New York Times, March 22, p. A10. Owen D.L. and Swift, T. (2001), "Social Accounting, Reporting and Auditing: Beyond the Rhetoric?", Business Ethics: A European Review, Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 4-8. Owen, D.L., Gray, R.H. and Bebbington, J. (1997), "Green Accounting: Cosmetic Irrelevance or Radical Agenda for Change?", Asia Pacific Journal of Accounting, Vol. 4 No. 2, pp. 175-98. Owen, D.L., Swift, T., Humphrey, C., Bowerman, M. (2000), "The New Social Audits: Accountability, Managerial Capture or The Agenda of Social Champions?", European Accounting Review, Vol. 9 No. 1, pp. 81-98. Owen, D.L., T.A. Swift, and Hunt, K. (2001), "Questioning the role of stakeholder engagement in social and ethical accounting, auditing and reporting", Accounting Forum, Vol. 25 No. 3, 264-82. 18
Parkinson, J. (2003), "Disclosure and Corporate Social and Environmental Performance: Competitiveness and Enterprise in a Broader Social Frame", Journal of Corporate Law Studies, Vol. 3 No. 1, pp. 3-39. Post, J.E., Preston, L.E., and Sachs, S. (2002), "Managing the extended enterprise: The New Stakeholder View", California Management Review, Vol. 45 No. 1. PricewaterhouseCoopers (2004), "Corporate social responsibility shown to enhance profitability and long term shareholder value says PwC", http://www.pwc.com/Extweb/ncpressrelease.nsf/docid/CB5752E1DCB1BE9A80256E1B002 BE744, accessed 25 January 2004. Roberts, R.W. (1992), "Determinants of Corporate Social Responsibility Disclosure", Accounting, Organizations and Society, Vol. 17 No. 6, pp. 595-612. Roche, J. (2003), "Ireland and corporate responsibility", Ethical Corporation Magazine, No. 23, November, pp. 35-37. Rockness, J. and Williams, P.F. (1988), "A descriptive study of social responsibility mutual funds", Accounting, Organizations and Society, Vol. 13 No. 4, pp. 397-411. Spar, D.L. and La Mure, L.T. (2003), "The Power of Activism: Assessing the Impact of NGOs on Global Business", California Management Review, Vol. 45 No. 3, pp. 78101. Stoney, C. and Winstanley, D. (2001), "Stakeholding: Confusion or Utopia?: Mapping the Conceptual Terrain", Journal of Management Studies, Vol. 38 No. 5, pp. 603-26. SustainAbility, (2003), The 21st Century NGO: In the Market for Change, SustainAbility, London. Swift, T. (2001), "Trust, Reputation and Corporate Accountability to Stakeholders", Business Ethics: A European Review, Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 16-26. Tilt, C.A. (1994), "The Influence of External Pressure Groups on Corporate Social Disclosure: Some Empirical Evidence", Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, Vol. 7 No. 4, pp. 47-72. Tilt, C. (2003), "Influences on Corporate Social Reporting; A Look at Lobby Groups Ten Years On", paper presented at the International Congress on Social Accounting, Dundee, September. Unerman, J. and Bennett, M. (forthcoming), "Increased Stakeholder Dialogue and the Internet: Towards Greater Corporate Accountability or Reinforcing Capitalist Hegemony?", forthcoming in Accounting, Organizations and Society. Vakil, A.C. "Confronting the classification problem: A taxonomy of NGOs" World Development, Vol. 25 No. 12, pp. 2057 ­2071. 19
Wallace. R.S.O., Mellor, C.J., Cooke, T.E. (1990), "Non response bias in mail accounting surveys: a pedagogical extension", British Accounting Review, Vol. 22 No. 3, pp. 283288. World Economic Forum (2002). Global Corporate Citizenship; The Leadership Challenge for CEOs and Boards, World Economic Forum and The Prince of Wales International Business Leaders Forum, Geneva. Zadek, S. (2002a), "Comment; The Business Case for Non-Financial Reporting'. Ethical Corporation Magazine. Online Version, http://www.ethicalcorp.com/printtemplate.asp?idnum=431, accessed 9 January 2003. Zadek, S. (2002b), "Comment: The Impact of Public Reporting", Ethical Corporation Magazine. Online Version, http://www.ethicalcorp.com/printtemplate.asp?idnum=397 20
Table 1 Categories of Survey Subjects and Respondents
Category Social NGOs Environmental NGOs Total
Survey Subjects Number surveyed 35 18
Respondents
Number received
Proportion of category surveyed (%)
15
43%
13
72%
53
28
53%
21
Table 2
Demand for CSD and Preferred Medium of CSD Dissemination
Mean SD % who strongly % who strongly
agree or agree disagree or
with the
disagree with the
statement
statement
Demand for CSD:
I would like to see Irish
companies engaging in extensive 1.43 0.879
96%
4%
levels of CSD
CSD should be a mandatory
requirement for all publicly
1.50 0.839
86%
4%
quoted Irish companies.
CSD should be a mandatory
requirement for all large privately 1.64 0.869
82%
4%
owned Irish companies.
Preferred Medium of CSD Dissemination:
CSD is most effectively
disseminated through the medium
of:
1.96 0.99
86%
11%
The company annual report
A separate stand-alone
social/environmental report
1.57 0.88
82%
4%
The company website
2.25 1.08
71%
14%
Notes: 1 = strongly agree, 2 = agree, 3 = neither agree nor disagree, 4 = disagree, 5 = strongly disagree. SD = standard deviation
22
Table 3 Ranking of Motives driving NGO demand for CSD
Motive/ Rank
1
2
3
4
To gain knowledge of the company's commitment to 47% 10% 14% 29% responsible business practices
To check compliance of the company to law and 7% regulations relating to social and environmental concerns
29% 47% 17%
To investigate whether the company is reporting in line 25% 25% 14% 36% with their actual social and environmental impacts
To assist in putting pressure on the company to 21% 36% 25% 18% improve their social and environmental performance
23
Table 4
Verification of CSD
Demand for Verification
Mean SD % who strongly % who strongly
agree or agree disagree or
with the
disagree with the
statement
statement
CSD reports should be verified by
1.5 0.79
89%
4%
independent bodies external to the
organisation.
Preferred Verifiers
The credibility of CSD reports would be enhanced if they were verified by:
those with expertise within the
3.30 1.16
25%
40%
company
an external body such as an NGO
1.74 0.86
79%
4%
an independent consultant within the
1.19
43%
22%
industry
2.73
an independent social/environmental 1.59 0.89
89%
4%
auditor
a financial auditor
3.50 1.07
21%
50%
Notes: 1 = strongly agree, 2 = agree, 3 = neither agree nor disagree, 4 = disagree, 5 = strongly disagree. SD = standard deviation
24
Table 5
Current CSD Practice in Ireland
Characteristics of Current CSD Practice
Mean
% who strongly SD agree or agree with the statement
Current CSD allows NGOs to
3.88 1.12
11%
comprehensively monitor company activities.
The extent of CSD is usually sufficient to enable a user of such information gain an overall understanding of the social and environmental impacts of a company's activities.
4.00 0.88
4%
CSD in Ireland is credible
4.11 0.89
4%
There is ample opportunity and/or 3.96 0.96
4%
encouragement to supply feedback to the
producers of CSD
Current CSD in Ireland is useful.
3.39 1.06
29%
% who strongly disagree or disagree with the statement 75% 82% 82% 68% 54%
Notes: 1 = strongly agree, 2 = agree, 3 = neither agree nor disagree, 4 = disagree, 5 = strongly disagree. SD = standard deviation
25
Table 6
Comparing Social and Environmental NGO Perceptions of Current CSD Practice
Characteristics of Current CSD Practice
Mean Social NGOs
Mean
Mann Significance
Environmental Whitney (2 tailed)
NGOs
U
Current CSD allows NGOs to
3.57
comprehensively monitor company
activities.
The extent of CSD is usually sufficient 3.86 to enable a user of such information gain an overall understanding of the social and environmental impacts of a company's activities.
Corporate Social Disclosure in Ireland 3.93 is credible.
There is ample opportunity and/or 3.71
encouragement to supply feedback to
the producers of Corporate Social
Disclosure.
Current CSD in Ireland is useful.
2.92
4.23
68.50
0.15
4.15
69.00
0.15
4.31
61.00
0.07*
4.25
62.50
0.09*
3.92
50.50
0.02**
Notes: 1 = strongly agree, 2 = agree, 3 = neither agree nor disagree, 4 = disagree, 5 = strongly disagree. SD = standard deviation * significant at p<0.10 ** significant at p<0.05
26
Table 7
Perceived Corporate Motives for CSD in Ireland
Motive for CSD
Mean SD % who
% who
perceive
perceive
motive as
motive as
having an having an
overwhelming insignificant
influence or influence or
significant no influence
influence
whatsoever
Pressure from stakeholders such as NGOs
3.04 1.04
39%
32%
Political pressure for enhanced corporate 2.36 0.87
64%
7%
transparency
A duty to be accountable to the wider society 3.46 0.99
7%
36%
A desire to stave off potential regulation
2.18 0.86
68%
7%
A desire to divert attention from irresponsible 2.93 0.98
29%
21%
activities
An attempt to build trust through enhanced 2.39 0.92
54%
11%
public relations
A moral or ethical imperative
3.46 1.11
14%
50%
Notes: 1 = overwhelming influence, 2 = significant influence, 3 = slight influence, 4 = insignificant influence, 5 = no influence whatsoever. SD = standard deviation
27
Table 8 The Potential for NGO/ Corporate Engagement on CSD in Ireland (1) ­ The Nature of NGO/ Corporate Relations
Which of the following best describes the nature of your organisation's relationship with Irish business entities? Extremely amicable Amicable Neither amicable nor antagonistic Antagonistic Extremely antagonistic/hostile
% of Respondents 14% 36% 39% 7% 4%
28
Table 9 The Potential for NGO/ Corporate Engagement on CSD in Ireland (2) ­ The Nature of NGO/ Corporate Relations
Statement
Mean SD % who strongly agree or agree with the statement
Social and Environmental NGOs have the
2.714 0.90
50%
ability to exert significant influence over the
actions of companies especially those with a
potentially adverse social and/or environmental
impact.
Social and Environmental NGOs and the Irish 2.071 0.86
86%
corporate sector can work together to effectively
tackle social and environmental issues
My organisation engages in activities to exert 2.704 1.17
47%
influence on the CSD practices of companies.
There is the potential for stakeholder groups 2.286 1.05
75%
such as NGO's to be allowed an input into the
formulation of CSD reports in the future in
Ireland.
% who strongly disagree or disagree with the statement 25% 7% 18% 18%
Notes: 1 = strongly agree, 2 = agree, 3 = neither agree nor disagree, 4 = disagree, 5 = strongly disagree. SD = standard deviation
29

File: the-emergence-and-future-development-of-corporate-social-disclosure.pdf
Title: Microsoft Word - 1088-ODwyer.doc
Author: osltemp
Published: Tue May 11 17:43:32 2004
Pages: 30
File size: 0.09 Mb


, pages, 0 Mb

MYSTERY READERS JOURNAL, 32 pages, 0.55 Mb

, pages, 0 Mb

The Mission, 1 pages, 0.87 Mb
Copyright © 2018 doc.uments.com