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    Corporate Sustainability Reporting and Stakeholder Concerns:...
    research summary posted June 22, 2017 by Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips, tagged 14.0 Corporate Matters, 15.0 International Matters, 15.05 Sustainability Services 
    Corporate Sustainability Reporting and Stakeholder Concerns: Is There a Disconnect?
    Practical Implications:

    Sustainability is important to the accounting industry. Accountants have a responsibility to help integrate sustainability into areas such as budgets, resource allocations, and capital expenditure decisions. The evidence from this study indicates what CS activities consumer find important. Management can use this information in developing their business strategies related to CS. 


    Bradford, Marianne, J. B. Earp, D. S. Showalter, and P. F. Williams. 2017. “Corporate Sustainability Reporting and Stakeholder Concerns: Is There a Disconnect?”. Accounting Horizons. 31 (1): 83-102.

    corporate sustainability; Global Reporting Initiative; sustainability reporting; stakeholder theory; content analysis; survey; factor analysis
    Purpose of the Study:

    There has been an increasing number of companies reporting their corporate sustainability (CS) in recent years. Traditionally, CS refers to measures companies take against environmental issues. However, in recent years it is often viewed as the balance between environmental, social, and economic outcomes, also known as the triple bottom line. This expanded definition of CS has caused companies to emphasize different outcomes, and subsequently to have vastly different CS reports. The current guidelines for CS reporting, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework, is consistently updated to account for this expanded view. Additionally, consumers are increasingly being viewed as primary stakeholder groups. This study examines whether the CS information being reported through the GRI framework is adequately addressing consumer stakeholder interests.

    Design/Method/ Approach:

    The sample contained 505 participants that responded to an online survey in 2013. The link to the survey was posted on the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) website and also onto North Carolina State University’s website. The participants assumed the role of consumers and took the survey which contained 40 scale items and 6 demographic items.


    The authors find the following:

    • There is a disconnect between the dimensions that consumer stakeholder groups view as important and the GRI dimensions. The GRI based framework is broad, and therefore the reported measures may not satisfy the precise concerns that all stakeholder groups have.
    • Specifically, consumer stakeholder group consider Risk and Compliance to be of high importance. The stakeholders are concerned with the company’s ethical behavior, accountability standards, audits, and accounting policies. On the other hand, Economic activities were viewed as less important.
    Corporate Matters, International Matters
    Sustainability ServicesTraining & General Experience