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Infographics in corporate sustainability reports: Providing useful information or used for impression management?

Majid Kanbaty, Andreas Hellmann and Liyu He

Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Finance, 2020, vol. 26, issue C

Abstract: This paper examines the use of infographics in sustainability reports, particularly focusing on whether infographics are used for impression management purposes by creating a more favourable view of a firm’s sustainability performance. A content analysis is used to examine the frequencies, types, components, and themes of infographics included in sustainability reports of 147 US companies. Results suggest that infographics are widely used for selecting, comparing and emphasising sustainability performance trends towards favourable disclosures. Further, the findings of a regression analysis show that the level of impression management is significantly associated with both environmental and social disclosures. The paper provides the first evidence of how sustainability performance is visually communicated via infographics, a new kind of graphical representation that is increasingly used in sustainability reports. Additionally, the paper contributes to the debate on the reliability of information included in sustainability reports.

Keywords: Communication style; Impression management; Organisational​ communication; Persuasion; Corporate sustainability reporting (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jbef.2020.100309

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