PurposeManagement is sometimes challenged by investors to justify the financial benefits of voluntary disclosure and transparency related to corporate social responsibility (CSR). Researchers have found inconsistent results when examining the relationship between CSR reporting and financial performance. The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationship between voluntary CSR reporting and financial performance. Specifically, this paper addresses three questions. First, is there a significant difference in Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) reporting level for firms in a high environmental risk sector compared to those in a low environmental risk sector? Second, does GRI reporting level significantly influence financial performance measures, such as the risk ratios and information ratio? And third, does the relationship between GRI reporting level and financial performance measures differ significantly based on sector environmental risk? These questions are particularly relevant to the Indian business environment, where CSR is not just voluntary but mandated by regulation since 2013. The Indian Government is the first to do so and is ahead of many nations in collaborating with businesses to address not just environmental impacts but also social effects of industry on the community.Design/methodology/approachThis study examined the relationship between GRI reporting level and financial performance for 173 firms with different levels of environmental risk. ANOVA and MANOVA were used to examine for differences in GRI reporting level and financial performance for firms from the various sectors and also to determine if there were significant relationships between GRI level and certain financial risk ratios.FindingsResults indicate that firms in sectors with high environmental risk adopt GRI framework at a higher level than firms with low environmental risk. There is no significant relationship found between GRI reporting and financial performance at an aggregate level. However, environmental risk is found to moderate the relationship between GRI reporting and financial reporting, such that firms with high risk experience a more significant relationship between the GRI level that is adopted and financial performance.Originality/valueCSR is quickly becoming a pathway to sustainable competitive advantage for businesses today. Such CSR efforts can lead to both reputational and financial performance implications. Organizations not only adopt CSR in response to regulatory requirements, but also frequently do so voluntarily to address stakeholder concerns. This study sheds valuable insight on the positive effects of CSR reporting, which provides important implications for Indian organizations.
Journal of Indian Business Research – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jun 17, 2019