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Does disclosure in sustainability reports indicate actual sustainability performance?

Papoutsi, A. & Sodhi, M. ORCID: 0000-0002-2031-4387 (2020). Does disclosure in sustainability reports indicate actual sustainability performance?. Journal of Cleaner Production, 260(1), article number 121049. doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2020.121049


This study investigates whether sustainability reports indicate corporate sustainability performance—in other words, the extent to which such disclosure is informative. To extract relevant information from sustainability reports, 51 sustainability indicators of practices were compiled from the literature and reporting guidelines on sustainability. These indicators were then scored for 331 companies based on the content of their sustainability reports. A factor analysis carried out on these indicators yielded five constructs: three for environmental sustainability and two for social sustainability. Bloomberg’s environmental and social governance (ESG) ratings and Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DSJI), which use private and public information from companies, served as proxies for actual sustainability performance. Upon testing, the constructs developed from the sustainability reports were found to explain the DJSI and ESG measures of sustainability significantly. Therefore, sustainability reports appear to indicate actual sustainability performance.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2020. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Publisher Keywords: Sustainability performance, Sustainability reports, Content analysis, Sustainability constructs, Environmental sustainability, Social sustainability
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of paper 6Jan2020 SUBM.pdf]
Text - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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