Sustainability Reporting In A Global Context: What Are The Characteristics Of Corporations That Provide High Quality Sustainability Reports An Empirical Analysis

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Petra F.A. Dilling

Keywords

sustainability reporting, global reporting initiative, G3 guidelines, corporate governance, empirical study, corporate social responsibility, CSR

Abstract

Over the last years, sustainable development has become one of the major issues that all global organizations are facing. The Global Reporting Initiative, located in the Netherlands and considered the leading authority world-wide, has developed what is currently considered the “common framework for sustainability reporting”. The latest version of their reporting guidelines called G3 contains detailed instructions and standards on how to prepare sustainability reports. By using G3 guidelines, corporations show a strong commitment of continuous improvement of their sustainability reporting practices. The G3 guidelines are increasingly adopted by many global corporations and organizations. At present, more than 700 organizations voluntarily publish a sustainability report according to G3 guidelines. For the first time, this empirical study investigates if the better performing and/or governed corporations prepare their sustainability reports according to the G3 guidelines. The goal of this study is to determine if there are significant differences with regard to size, financial performance, capital structure, and corporate governance between firms that publish a G3 sustainability report to those that don’t. Therefore, quantitative and qualitative variables of 124 randomly selected G3 reporting and non-G3 reporting corporations from 25 countries were analyzed. The results of this analysis show that corporations with the characteristics of being located in Europe, and/or being active in the energy or producing sector, and/or with a higher profit margin are more likely to produce high quality sustainability reports. Corporations with a higher long-term growth rate, on the other hand, are less likely to produce sustainability reports. The results of this unique study contribute directly to the knowledge of corporations providing voluntary CSR information in form of quality sustainability reports and the importance of the development of globally accepted sustainability reporting standards.

 

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