PurposeThis study aims to assess if online interaction through social media, particularly Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, represents an effective stakeholder engagement mechanism in order to define the contents of social, environmental or sustainability reporting (SESR).Design/methodology/approachAfter examining 332 worldwide sustainability reports for the year 2013, drawn up according to the guidelines provided by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), we conducted a content analysis on the Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube pages of the organisations who rely on these types of social media. This was done in order to assess the scope of interaction between the organisation and its stakeholders.FindingsWe found that a small number of organisations use social media to engage stakeholders as a means of defining the contents of SESR, and that the level of interaction is generally low. Rather than assuming a deliberative approach that is aimed at forging a democratic consensus on how to address specific CSR or SESR issues, these types of interaction focus on gathering divergent socio-political views in an agonistic perspective. Research limitations/implicationsFurther research could complement this exploratory research with statistical analyses. It could focus on how comments/replies by users are used by organisations and examine the impacts of SESR on companies’ performances.Originality/valueWe contribute to the literature on social accounting by understanding whether social media can be reliable instruments of stakeholder engagement and by examining the relevance of information that is voluntarily disclosed by corporations in SESR.
Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Aug 15, 2016
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