CSR reactions to major legitimacy (and/or reputation) threats: the case of the aviation industry
Meetings and Proceedings
Recently some conflicting arguments have been expressed over the extent to which image, reputation or similar marketing notions have been employed to explain CSR practice. Bebbington, Larrinaga and Moneva [2008, “Corporate Social Reporting and Reputation Risk Management, Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, Vol. 21, No 3, pp. 337-361] have particularly stressed the need for openness to a multitude of theoretical perspectives and argued that reputation risk management may provide new insights into CSR practice. This paper revisits Bebbington et al’s arguments and empirically investigates them by examining the reaction of international aviation companies, in terms of Annual and stand-alone Reports disclosure, to some major accidents concerning them. Five aviation companies have so far been considered whilst the analysis is to be complemented by the consideration of five more companies of similar size, country and clientele which had no accidents at the time, to increase comparability of the findings. A largely qualitative approach to content analysis is employed, considering not only the variations in the measured levels of disclosure prior to, and following, the accident, but also what is actually stated in the disclosures. The paper’s findings lend support to the refined Bebbington et al’s arguments, and particularly the identified as pragmatic, image-oriented variant of the framework, where organisations engage with CSR to ensure they possess adequate supplies of the legitimacy resource to maintain profitability and long term survival, although some limitations of the approach are also identified. The paper finds particular value in considering multiple theoretical and methodological frameworks in data analysis and calls for more papers of this type.
Paper presented at the British Accounting Association Annual Conference, Cardiff, 30 March – 1 April 2010
British Accounting Association Annual Conference, 2010-03-30, 2010-04-01, Cardiff
Place of publication