When it comes to corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports, skepticism and mistrust toward companies often prevail among both stakeholders and scholars. However, the overall content quality of CSR reports has only sparsely evoked researchers' attention. Therefore, this paper focuses on the credibility of CSR reports, based on both human and software-enhanced quantitative content analysis of 237 CSR reports from 11 European countries. Credibility is conceptualized as a multilayered construct along CSR and communication theories, filling the theory void in the field. The influence of contextual (e.g., industry), format, and firm-level (e.g., size) factors on reporting credibility is also investigated. The results show that European CSR reports do not score high on credibility, leaving much room for improvement. The study finds that it is standardization and content that matter most for reporting credibility; external influences are secondary, at best. To be considered credible, CSR reports must first be understandable to their readers; in addition, credibility involves truth, sincerity, and stakeholder specificity. Voluntary standardization affects CSR reporting credibility positively, whereas regulation does not yet have the same positive effect. Based on the empirical results of the content analysis, we present a new two-phase-model of reporting credibility. For practice, we suggest that companies focus on the contents of their reports to render them more credible. To raise credibility levels consistently, policy makers can create a level playing field in CSR reporting regulation, as already initiated by several countries.
Journal of Cleaner Production – Elsevier
Published: May 20, 2016
It’s your single place to instantly
discover and read the research
that matters to you.
Enjoy affordable access to
over 18 million articles from more than
15,000 peer-reviewed journals.
All for just $49/month
Query the DeepDyve database, plus search all of PubMed and Google Scholar seamlessly
Save any article or search result from DeepDyve, PubMed, and Google Scholar... all in one place.
Get unlimited, online access to over 18 million full-text articles from more than 15,000 scientific journals.
Read from thousands of the leading scholarly journals from SpringerNature, Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford University Press and more.
All the latest content is available, no embargo periods.
“Hi guys, I cannot tell you how much I love this resource. Incredible. I really believe you've hit the nail on the head with this site in regards to solving the research-purchase issue.”Daniel C.
“Whoa! It’s like Spotify but for academic articles.”@Phil_Robichaud
“I must say, @deepdyve is a fabulous solution to the independent researcher's problem of #access to #information.”@deepthiw
“My last article couldn't be possible without the platform @deepdyve that makes journal papers cheaper.”@JoseServera