The aim of this research is to analyze the current state of social and environmental reporting by Italian listed companies with reference to the year 2011 and to compare the diffusion and characteristics of these reports with those that emerged from previous research (Cantele, 2004) conducted in 2004 and concerning reports of the year 2002. This availability of two databases created over a 9-year timeframe makes it possible to analyze reporting trends from three main standpoints: • persistence and evolution of CSER starting from the first forms of report drafted by the sample of 57 companies that presented a report for the year 2011; • similarities and differences in the practice of social reporting in 2002 and in 2011 with reference to the two different sample sets of reports available to the two studies; • evolution of reporting in those firms which showed continuity in social reporting by being in both the 2002 and the 2011 samples of firms. Research results show listed firms to be constantly and increasingly engaging in social reporting which is also becoming more widespread over different sectors: leadership by financial and utility sectors accompanies increasing interest from manufacturing and consumer goods firms, revealing an emerging request of transparency by consumers and business-to-business operators. Other emerging trends are the tendency to draft sustainability reporting rather than pure environmental or social reporting, the introduction of first experiences of integrated reporting and the acknowledgement of the authority of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) as the real standard setter for this type of reporting. The tendency to standardize reports and integrate different corporate performance perspectives (social and environmental as well as economic) could be seen as an improvement in corporate voluntary disclosure in the recent past. Previous research on voluntary reporting highlighted the high degree of diversification in practice, the overlapping of information in environmental and social reporting (Cordazzo, 2002) and the high number of different performance indicators used in reporting (Bonollo, Cantele, Vernizzi, 2006). They expressed a desire for a process of report standardization and integration. This process now appears to be underway. The availability of data from firms that have a long-standing experience with social and environmental reporting makes it possible to analyze changes occurred in reports (in terms of structure, content, improvement of disclosure and quality of reporting) and to deepen understanding of the motivations behind these trends. The paper is structured as follows: the first section gives an analysis of literature on CSER, examining the types of research carried out to date on global reporting practices. The next section illustrates the sample and the methodology used to gather and analyze data. The fourth section presents data analysis in terms of the state of the art to 2011, comparing the two studies carried out at a distance of nine years with comparison of several elements of the 2011 and 2002 reports. The last two sections, finally, deal respectively with discussion and conclusions.

A decade of social and environmental reporting in Italian listed companies: what (if anything) have they learnt?

CANTELE, SILVIA;MOGGI, Sara
2013

Abstract

The aim of this research is to analyze the current state of social and environmental reporting by Italian listed companies with reference to the year 2011 and to compare the diffusion and characteristics of these reports with those that emerged from previous research (Cantele, 2004) conducted in 2004 and concerning reports of the year 2002. This availability of two databases created over a 9-year timeframe makes it possible to analyze reporting trends from three main standpoints: • persistence and evolution of CSER starting from the first forms of report drafted by the sample of 57 companies that presented a report for the year 2011; • similarities and differences in the practice of social reporting in 2002 and in 2011 with reference to the two different sample sets of reports available to the two studies; • evolution of reporting in those firms which showed continuity in social reporting by being in both the 2002 and the 2011 samples of firms. Research results show listed firms to be constantly and increasingly engaging in social reporting which is also becoming more widespread over different sectors: leadership by financial and utility sectors accompanies increasing interest from manufacturing and consumer goods firms, revealing an emerging request of transparency by consumers and business-to-business operators. Other emerging trends are the tendency to draft sustainability reporting rather than pure environmental or social reporting, the introduction of first experiences of integrated reporting and the acknowledgement of the authority of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) as the real standard setter for this type of reporting. The tendency to standardize reports and integrate different corporate performance perspectives (social and environmental as well as economic) could be seen as an improvement in corporate voluntary disclosure in the recent past. Previous research on voluntary reporting highlighted the high degree of diversification in practice, the overlapping of information in environmental and social reporting (Cordazzo, 2002) and the high number of different performance indicators used in reporting (Bonollo, Cantele, Vernizzi, 2006). They expressed a desire for a process of report standardization and integration. This process now appears to be underway. The availability of data from firms that have a long-standing experience with social and environmental reporting makes it possible to analyze changes occurred in reports (in terms of structure, content, improvement of disclosure and quality of reporting) and to deepen understanding of the motivations behind these trends. The paper is structured as follows: the first section gives an analysis of literature on CSER, examining the types of research carried out to date on global reporting practices. The next section illustrates the sample and the methodology used to gather and analyze data. The fourth section presents data analysis in terms of the state of the art to 2011, comparing the two studies carried out at a distance of nine years with comparison of several elements of the 2011 and 2002 reports. The last two sections, finally, deal respectively with discussion and conclusions.
social and environmental reporting; sustainability reporting
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11562/609352
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