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Evaluating extra-financial reporting: The case of the German ranking of sustainability reports

Jana Gebauer and Esther Hoffmann

Journal of Applied Accounting Research, 2009, vol. 10, issue 3, 224-234

Abstract: Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to introduce a long-time report evaluation project of the Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW) and the business network “future – Design/methodology/approach - On a regular basis, the IÖW/future-Ranking evaluates the content and communicative quality of sustainability and CR reports of Germany's 150 largest companies. The project provides a platform where stakeholder expectations concerning corporate responsibility and transparency are synthesised into a comprehensive catalogue of reporting requirements. These criteria have to be met by the companies to reliably show sustainability commitment. Findings - The evaluation of the reports not only makes the sustainability reporting practice of companies comparable and transparent to the public. The set of criteria itself also serves as a reporting framework for companies and thus enhances directional certainty about corporate contributions to sustainable development. It is itself subject to a periodic evaluation and adaptation by means of dialogue and feedback processes with representatives from industry, politics and NGOs. Practical implications - The paper discusses the process of ranking and the possibilities for future developments in this. Originality/value - The process described has had little academic exposure and so the paper provides an original insight into a practical subject which has academic interest.

Keywords: Corporate image; Social responsibility; Sustainable development; Business ethics; Germany (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2009
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