Journal of Business Ethics (2009) 88:351–366 DOI 10.1007/s10551-008-9968-9
Ó Springer 2008
Determinants of Corporate Social Responsibility Disclosure Ratings by Spanish Listed Firms
ABSTRACT. The aim of this paper is to analyze whether a number of firm and industry characteristics, as well as media exposure, are potential determinants of corporate social responsibility (CSR) disclosure practices by Spanish listed firms. Empirical studies have shown that CSR disclosure activism varies across companies, industries, and time (Gray et al., Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal 8(2), 47–77, 1995; Journal of Business Finance & Accounting 28(3/4), 327–356, 2001; ...view middle of the document...
Many of the ﬁrms which have been credited
with contributing to economic and technological progress have been criticized for creating social problems. Issues such as pollution, waste, resource depletion, product quality and safety, the rights and status of workers, and the power of large corporations have become the focus of increasing attention and concern. In this context, companies have been increasingly urged to become accountable to a wider audience than shareholder and creditor groups. As a matter of fact, public awareness and interest in environmental and social issues and increased attention in mass media have resulted in more social disclosures from corporations in the last two decades (Deegan and Gordon, 1996; Gray et al., 1995; Hooghiemstra, 2000; Kolk, 2003). In the European Union context, the publication of the Green Paper (2001) by the European Commission launched a wide debate on how the EU could promote corporate social responsibility (CSR). Although there is still no universal deﬁnition of CSR (Godfrey and Hatch, 2007), most deﬁnitions describe it as a concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis. By acting in a responsible way to the variety of social, environmental, and economic pressures, companies respond to the expectations of the various stakeholders with whom they interact, such as employees, shareholders, investors, consumers, public authorities, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Companies usually inform of their CSR activities in the annual report or in separate social reports (CSR Report or Sustainability Report). However, there is no standardization or uniformity in terms of the items reported, or the way of reporting.
Carmelo Reverte been generally adopted by Spanish listed ﬁrms in the last years as the benchmark for CSR reporting. As a result, CSR disclosures by Spanish ﬁrms in our sample period are much more richer and extensive as compared to previous studies in the Spanish context in which that information was very scarce and anecdotical. Moreover, our measure of CSR not only captures environmental issues but also a number of social aspects included in the latest developments in CSR worldwide, specially those stemming from the GRI Sustainability Reporting Guidelines and the United Nations Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with regard to Human Rights. Third, in contrast to the understanding of CSR from common law English-speaking countries (Australia, Canada, UK, US), the determinants of CSR in Continental Europe are still relatively unknown. Therefore, our main goal is to analyze whether the speciﬁc features of Spain regarding its capital market and companies’ ﬁnancing structure result in a signiﬁcant difference between the factors inﬂuencing CSR disclosure practices of Spanish listed ﬁrms when compared to ﬁrms...