The Normativity and Legitimacy of CSR Disclosure: Evidence from France
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In 2001, France became one of the few countries to require corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting through its Nouvelles Régulations Économiques #2001-420 (NRE). However, initial compliance with the statute was low, a factor implying the law lacked normativity. In this exploratory study, we attempt to determine whether there is movement toward normativity by examining the change in CSR disclosure from 2004 in comparison to 2010 for a sample of 81 publicly traded French firms. We measure both the space and the quality of CSR disclosures, including in the latter a measure based on informational quality attributes as discussed by the International Accounting Standards Board, the Financial Accounting Standards Board, and the Global Reporting Initiative. We find significant increases in the space allocated to CSR disclosure, as well as some evidence of increased quality; although the informational quality of the disclosures remains quite low and fewer firms are including negative performance information in their reports. Finally, we document that differences in disclosure space and quality in 2004 appeared to be associated with legitimacy-based variables and that those relations remain largely unchanged in 2010. As such, it appears that the NRE’s goals of increased transparency remain unmet.
KeywordsCorporate Social Responsibility Sample Firm Global Reporting Initiative Corporate Social Responsibility Reporting Environmental Disclosure
The authors are grateful for comments and suggestions provided by Giovanna Michelon, and participants of the 30th European Accounting Association Annual Congress in Lisbon, the 23rd International Congress on Social and Environmental Accounting Research in St Andrews, the 2012 Conference of the American Accounting Association’s Public Interest Section Mid-Year Meeting (particular thanks to discussant Kim Zahller), the 33ème Congrès de l’Association Francophone de Comptabilité (AFC) in Grenoble (special thanks to discussant Michel Magnan), the 2012 American Accounting Association Annual Meeting (special thanks to discussant Andrew Felo), and the 4th World Business Ethics Forum and research workshop at the University of Padova (special thanks to discussant Federica Ricceri). Charles Cho also acknowledges financial support received from the ESSEC Business School’s Research Center (CERESSEC) and the ESSEC KPMG Financial Reporting Centre. Jean-Noel Chauvey and Sophie Giordano-Spring acknowledge financial support received from the ANR program GEODD (Gouvernance des Entreprises, Organisations et Développement Durable).
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