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Managing Corporate Social and Environmental Disclosure: An Accountability vs. Impression Management Framework

Adelaide Martins (), Delfina Gomes () and Manuel Branco
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Adelaide Martins: Department of Economics and Management, University Portucalence, REMIT, 4200-072 Porto, Portugal
Delfina Gomes: School of Economics and Management, University of Minho, 4710-057 Braga, Portugal

Sustainability, 2020, vol. 13, issue 1, 1-15

Abstract: Institutional environment demands from organizations to be accountable for their social and environmental actions and to provide information allowing the assessment of their long-term prospects for profitability may lead organizations to adopt Impression Management (IM) tactics to manage perceptions. Consequently, organizations may provide accounts demonstrating that they are good corporate citizens and possess the intangible assets required for future good financial performance. Although organizations have increased their corporate social reporting, the quality and reliability of those reports have been questioned. The literature suggests that these disclosures tend to be selective and biased, and do not enhance corporate accountability. This study proposes a formal conceptual framework linking IM, social and environmental accountability, financial performance, and organizational legitimacy. The arguments in this study are of economic, societal, and ethical concern, as IM behaviors may undermine the transparency of social and environmental reporting, and the decoupling between the economic and social image offered by companies through reporting and the reality. These insights also point at the complexities for organizations in dealing with accountability to all stakeholders. The conceptual framework proposed is useful for future studies aiming at understanding how organizations use IM in their corporate social reporting in the accountability process.

Keywords: accountability; corporate social responsibility; financial performance; impression management; intangible assets; legitimacy; social and environmental disclosure; sustainability (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O13 Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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