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Social reports of an Italian provincial government: a longitudinal analysis

Social reports of an Italian provincial government: a longitudinal analysis This paper aims to examine the non-financial information disclosed in social reports by an Italian provincial government over time to determine its relevance, contribution and evolution.Design/methodology/approachThrough a case study analysis, the authors examine 10 years of social reports by one “best practice” Italian provincial government. The authors use content analysis to quantify the level of social and environmental disclosures and use a coding instrument based on the GRI guidelines. The authors use legitimacy theory as a framework.FindingsThe level of disclosure increased over the 10-year period, and the type of disclosures became more detailed. However, many of the economic, social and environmental elements set out in the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines were not disclosed. Moreover, the social report was contingent on a few key factors. The authors find that there has been a decline in interest in social reports by local governments in Italy, suggesting that voluntary disclosure was perhaps a fad that no longer is of interest in Italian local government.Research limitations/implicationsThis research is one case study so the findings are not generalisable. The findings suggest that there is a need for regulation in non-financial information disclosures, as the disclosures in the case study organisation were very much at the discretion of the organisation. This has implications for policymakers.Originality/valueUnlike prior studies, this study takes a longitudinal approach to voluntary disclosure of non-financial information and focusses on the under-explored context of public sector organisations. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Meditari Accountancy Research Emerald Publishing

Social reports of an Italian provincial government: a longitudinal analysis

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References (70)

Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
2049-372X
DOI
10.1108/medar-11-2018-0397
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This paper aims to examine the non-financial information disclosed in social reports by an Italian provincial government over time to determine its relevance, contribution and evolution.Design/methodology/approachThrough a case study analysis, the authors examine 10 years of social reports by one “best practice” Italian provincial government. The authors use content analysis to quantify the level of social and environmental disclosures and use a coding instrument based on the GRI guidelines. The authors use legitimacy theory as a framework.FindingsThe level of disclosure increased over the 10-year period, and the type of disclosures became more detailed. However, many of the economic, social and environmental elements set out in the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines were not disclosed. Moreover, the social report was contingent on a few key factors. The authors find that there has been a decline in interest in social reports by local governments in Italy, suggesting that voluntary disclosure was perhaps a fad that no longer is of interest in Italian local government.Research limitations/implicationsThis research is one case study so the findings are not generalisable. The findings suggest that there is a need for regulation in non-financial information disclosures, as the disclosures in the case study organisation were very much at the discretion of the organisation. This has implications for policymakers.Originality/valueUnlike prior studies, this study takes a longitudinal approach to voluntary disclosure of non-financial information and focusses on the under-explored context of public sector organisations.

Journal

Meditari Accountancy ResearchEmerald Publishing

Published: Aug 22, 2019

Keywords: Content analysis; Longitudinal study; Public sector; Social reports; Italian provincial government

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