Sustainability disclosure and reputation: a comparative study
Corporate Reputation Review
Drawing on legitimacy theory, we discuss that a company’s reputation is a determinant of sustainability disclosure. Specifically, we consider the concept of reputation into three dimensions for analysis: stakeholders’ commitment, financial performance and media exposure. This paper differs from previous social and environmental reporting studies in that it investigates both internal and external contextual factors that influence disclosure practice. We claim that companies with a good financial performance, that are adopting an active strategic position towards stakeholders and that are exposed to significant public pressure are more likely to use sustainability disclosure in order to communicate their legitimacy to operate to stakeholders. Moreover the paper analyses a wide range of corporate reports for their social and environmental content using an international sample that allows for a comparison of disclosure practices among Continental European, UK and USA companies. Our results show that stakeholder commitment and media exposure are positively associated with sustainability disclosure. Moreover, we find evidence that the drivers of disclosure vary by information type.
“This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Corporate Reputation Review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version Corporate Reputation Review 14(2), pp.79-96 is available online at: http://www.palgrave-journals.com/crr/index.html”
Vol. 14, Issue 2, pp. 79 - 96