Sustainability Reporting: The Role of 'Search', 'Experience' and 'Credence' Information

Accounting Forum, 37(3), 231-243, DOI 10.1016/j.accfor.2013.04.006

Posted: 13 Jun 2013 Last revised: 4 Sep 2014

See all articles by Breeda Comyns

Breeda Comyns

KEDGE Business School

Frank Figge

KEDGE Business School

Tobias Hahn

KEDGE Business School

Ralf Barkemeyer

Queen's University Belfast

Date Written: 2013

Abstract

Corporate sustainability reporting quality has been frequently criticised as being unbalanced, presenting an overly positive view or failing to address material issues. The purpose of this article is to provide a fresh explanation for poor quality sustainability reporting and to propose how quality issues may be addressed. The theoretical framework combines the legitimacy and accountability perspectives using Akerlof’s (1970) Market for Lemons theory. Akerlof’s approach is extended by differentiating between three types of information in sustainability reports namely search, experience and credence. The article concludes that the type of information must be considered when determining measures to improve report quality.

Keywords: Sustainability reporting, Akerlof’s Market for Lemons, Legitimacy theory, Accountability theory

Suggested Citation

Comyns, Breeda and Figge, Frank and Hahn, Tobias and Barkemeyer, Ralf, Sustainability Reporting: The Role of 'Search', 'Experience' and 'Credence' Information (2013). Accounting Forum, 37(3), 231-243, DOI 10.1016/j.accfor.2013.04.006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2277840

Breeda Comyns (Contact Author)

KEDGE Business School ( email )

Domaine de Luminy - BP 921
BP 921
Marseille, PACA 13288
France

Frank Figge

KEDGE Business School ( email )

Domaine de Luminy
BP 921 13288 Marseille Cedex 9, 13288
France

Tobias Hahn

KEDGE Business School ( email )

Domaine de Luminy - BP 921
BP 921
Marseille, PACA 13288
France
+33491827313 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.kedgebs.com

Ralf Barkemeyer

Queen's University Belfast ( email )

25 University Square
Belfast, BT7 1NN
Ireland

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
359
PlumX Metrics