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The ethical, social and environmental reporting-performance portrayal gap

journal contribution
posted on 2004-01-01, 00:00 authored by C Adams
The purpose of this article is twofold. First, it assesses in detail the extent to which corporate reporting on ethical, social and environmental issues reflects corporate performance in case study company Alpha. This “reporting-performance” portrayal gap is a key measure of the extent to which an organisation is accountable to its stakeholders. Alpha's disclosures concerning its ethical, social and environmental performance for the years 1993 and 1999 were compared with information obtained on Alpha's performance from other sources. Two different pictures of performance emerged leading to the conclusion that, in the case of Alpha, reports do not demonstrate a high level of accountability to key stakeholder groups on ethical, social and environmental issues. Of particular concern is the lack of “completeness” of reporting. Second, the article assesses the potential of recent standards or guidelines developed by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the Institute of Social and Ethical AccountAbility (AccountAbility) as well as the industry's own “responsible care” initiative to reduce this “reporting-performance” portrayal gap and improve corporate accountability. The conclusions point to the need for other measures to improve accountability including mandatory reporting guidelines, better developed audit guidelines, a mandatory audit requirement for MNCs and a radical overhaul of corporate governance systems.

History

Journal

Accounting, auditing and accountability journal

Volume

17

Issue

5

Pagination

731 - 757

Publisher

Emerald Group Publishing Ltd.

Location

Bingley, England

ISSN

1368-0668

eISSN

1758-4205

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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