Explaining the Variation Amongst Countries in Sustainability Reporting: An Institutional Analysis
European Journal of Social Sciences Vol. 50, No.1 – ISSN 1450-2267, pp. 96-106, 2015
11 Pages Posted: 20 Jan 2016
Date Written: November 1, 2015
Sustainability reports are emerging as key documents to 1) signal commitment towards sustainability; 2) manage the dialogue with stakeholders; 3) disclose relevant non-financial information. Although voluntary, sustainability reporting (SR) is spreading rapidly and widely among companies all over the world, as more than two thirds of the S&P 500 publish a non-financial report. Nevertheless, companies face different institutional systems of norms, industry standards and cultural beliefs where they operate, while SR guidelines are defined by international organizations that seek homogeneity and standardization. The friction between the universality of SR guidelines and the difference in national institutional contexts is evidently a major dynamic influencing whether and how companies engage in SR. This research studies the influence of cultural and institutional variables on the publication SR compliant to the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) G3 and G3.1 Guidelines, with an A Application Level. The cross-country sample includes companies publishing their sustainability reports in the “GRI Sustainability Disclosure Database” from 2005 to 2012. The analysis entails two stages: in the first stage, we observed the Gini index concentration of the reporting activity, in order to give representation of its geographical spreading, then, in the second stage, we performed a multivariate correlation and regression as to indicate the main factors influencing the disclosure of corporate sustainability practices. Our results indicate that institutional, i.e. regulatory initiatives and national culture, are significant in explaining the number of GRI A reports published in each country.
Keywords: GRI Reports, index of concentration, multivariated analysis, cultural and institutional influences
JEL Classification: M48, M14, C23
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