Corporate Sustainability Reporting and Stakeholder Accountability. A Review of the Italian Listed Companies’ Sustainability Reports

By Lara Tarquinio and Laura Berardi.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability Policy and Practice

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The purpose of this study is to assess how Italian companies (listed on the Italian Stock Exchange) that produce sustainability reports (SRs)–on the basis of the Global Reporting Initiative guidelines–identify and describe the stakeholders to whom they consider themselves responsible, the various methods of engagement, the key issues and critical points that arise during the involvement of stakeholders, and the corporate response in their sustainability reports. The first part of this article analyses the link between accountability and stakeholder engagement. The second part of the study is dedicated to the analysis of a sample SR with reference only to information dealing with stakeholder engagement. The analysis revealed the corporate need to manage the expectations of “primary” stakeholders. Less evident is the desire to enable constant interaction and an open relationship with all the stakeholders on whom corporate operations may have an impact. Our findings indicate that corporate sustainability reports seem to have little to do with stakeholder accountability and instead could be considered a useful tool for stakeholder management.

Keywords: Accountability, Stakeholder Engagement, Sustainability Reports, Global Reporting Initiative

The International Journal of Sustainability Policy and Practice, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp.33-44. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 498.966KB).

Prof. Lara Tarquinio

Associate Professor of Business Administration, Department of Economic Studies, G. d’Annunzio University of Chieti, Pescara, Italy

Now, environmental and sustainability accounting are the principal focus of my research interests. My main publications include the functions of explanatory notes in the transition process from IAS to IFRS; financial derivative tools and international accounting principles; financial derivatives in bank financial statements; aspects of change in the relationship between businesses and the natural, physical environment; corporate environmental responsibility; and business communication. I’m an associate professor of business administration and an adjunct professor of social accounting in the Faculty of Economics at the University G. d’Annunzio of Chieti, and a professor in charge of the course in Business Administration in the Faculty of Law in the Leonardo da Vinci Open University. I’m a member of the Committee of Professors for the Research Doctorate in Business Administration and Financial Intermediaries from the XVI to the XXIII cycle and the Research Doctorate in Innovation, Accounting, Environment and Finance for the XXIV cycle. Since 2005 I’ve been a delegate on the Vocational Advisory Services of the Faculty of Economics of the University G. d’Annunzio of Chieti.

Dr. Laura Berardi

Assistant Professor of Business Administration, Department of Economic Studies, G. d’Annunzio University of Chieti, Pescara, Italy

Laura Berardi is currently an assistant professor of business administration in the Department of Economic Studies at G. d’Annunzio University of Chieti-Pescara (Italy). Previously, she was a research fellow at the same University, where she also completed her Ph.D. in e-learning development and delivery in December 2009. She also worked at Bocconi University in Milan (September 2008–January 2009), at Wolverhampton Business School (Sep- tember 2009) and at Cass Business School (October 2009–February 2010) in the UK as a visiting researcher in corporate governance. She received her Bachelor in business administration from G. d’Annunzio University of Chieti-Pescara (Italy) in November 2003. Her research interests are in nonprofit management, specifically accounting and accountability in nonprofit organizations; corporate governance; and top management teams. She has published books and papers in national and international journal about these topics. Laura Berardi is also lecturer in integrated control systems and business administration at the Faculty of Economics of G. d’Annunzio University.