Varenova_whole_thesis.pdf (2 MB)
Stakeholder engagement and corporate social and environmental reporting : are companies meeting their accountability obligations?
thesisposted on 2023-05-26, 01:15 authored by Varenova, D
The practice of corporate social and environmental (SE) reporting is adopted by many companies. The reason for such reporting varies but this study focuses on exploring the application of normative stakeholder theory. This theoretical position posits that the claims of stakeholders should be considered by management whatever the influence they may have on the ability of management to generate profit. Assuming stakeholders do require corporate SE reporting, such reporting becomes a vehicle to provide information on how these claims are fulfilled. In this way management are able to discharge their obligation to be accountable to stakeholders. However, if management lack sufficient information about these claims or the expectations of stakeholders they may not be able to, or may not fully meet the accountability obligations that normative stakeholder theory would suggest they have. In effect the development of corporate SE reports could be assisted if it is known whether or not management are sufficiently informed of these claims, and the types of information that stakeholders are demanding. One way to explore this is to consider the nature of stakeholder engagement. This study has found there is limited research which has explored the methods adopted by management to engage with stakeholders. Equally much of the research has focused on the information needs of shareholders and other investors rather than stakeholders with non-financial interests in organisational activities. Therefore, this study concentrates on corporate stakeholders with non-financial interests, namely NGOs operating in Australia, and their information needs with regards to a single industry, the Australian mining industry. Stakeholder engagement practices undertaken by mining companies and NGOs to explore NGOs' information needs as well as whether the SE disclosures of mining companies then address those information needs are investigated. The data collected by performing the content analysis of mining companies' reports, and conducting surveys of both NGOs and mining companies as well as a small number of interviews with the representatives of NGOs, show that there is a discrepancy between the information that NGOs wish to see disclosed and what mining companies believe NGOs wish to see disclosed. In relation to the engagement undertaken by both companies and NGOs, the data shows a low level of engagement. However, when the engagement takes place, the methods adopted by both parties appear to coincide. With regards to the resultant disclosure of the social and environmental information by mining companies, the evidence supports earlier research which suggests that even after consulting stakeholders as to their information needs, they are not addressed in corporate reports.
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