Purpose – The primary purpose of this study is to investigate the association between the family status and corporate social responsibility disclosure (sustainability reporting) of large US companies. Design/methodology/approach – The authors gathered data from GRI database as well as from Compustat. They use both univariate and multivariate statistical analyses. Findings – The authors find that there is no statistically significant difference in the likelihood of sustainability reporting between family and non‐family firms of the S&P 500. They document important associations among the propensity to issue sustainability reports, the level of details of sustainability reports and certain firm‐specific and industry characteristic variables. Research limitations/implications – This study is focused on S&P 500 firms and may not be generalizable to smaller firms. Differences among family firms such as stock ownership and management control may affect sustainability reporting and are important topics for future research. Practical implications – Society should be aware of the motivations and incentives that govern sustainability reporting decisions by both family and non‐family firms. The authors show that both family and non‐family companies use voluntary disclosure in general and sustainability reporting in particular as a way of mitigating regulatory, political and litigation costs. Originality/value – No prior study, to the authors' knowledge, has examined the association between sustainability reporting and the family status of firms. The authors include suggestions for future research in this area and hope that their study will provide motivation and guidance to researchers to study this topic further.
Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Aug 2, 2013
Keywords: CSR; Sustainability reporting; Disclosure; Family status; Social responsibility; Family firms; United States of America