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School of Business | Department of Management Studies | MSc program in Management and International Business | 2015
Thesis number: 14189
"True and Fair View?" A critical discourse analysis on how companies report on negative corporate social responsibility events
Author: Lautjärvi, Juhani
Title: "True and Fair View?" A critical discourse analysis on how companies report on negative corporate social responsibility events
Year: 2015  Language: eng
Department: Department of Management Studies
Academic subject: MSc program in Management and International Business
Index terms: johtaminen; management; yhteiskuntavastuu; corporate responsibility; raportit; reports; kriisi; crisis
Pages: III+
Full text:
» hse_ethesis_14189.pdf pdf  size:741 KB (758023)
Key terms: Corporate Responsibility, Corporate Social Responsibility, Corporate Responsibility Reporting, Non-Financial Reporting, Negative Events
This Master's thesis studies the reporting practices of two Finnish case companies, Stora Enso Oyj and Kesko Oyj, with regard to their reporting practices on their negative corporate social responsibility events. The objective of the study is to understand how a negative corporate social responsibility event affects and changes reporting practices of a company. In particular, as the legislative requirements regarding non-financial reporting have been becoming more stringent, this Master's thesis evaluates the reporting practices especially in the light of the accounting principle of "true and fair view", which is more and more becoming a standard concerning non-financial information.

The research questions set forth for this Master's thesis are: 1) How does a negative event in the field of corporate social responsibility affect a company's social responsibility reporting; and 2) How does a company strive to legitimate its non-compliance with socially accepted norms and values in its corporate social responsibility reporting. Through critical discourse analysis, I identify practices utilized by the companies both affecting the overall reporting of the company and reporting on the respective negative events of both case companies. The theoretical framing builds up on the theory of legitimacy and the conceptualization of moral legitimacy, arguing that corporate social responsibility is constantly renegotiated through dialogue and conflicts between the company and its stakeholders.

Based on the data analysis, it is clear that company practices with regard to their responsibility tend to alter as a result of a negative event. This is made possible as the concept of corporate social responsibility is defined partially ambiguously in the corporate social responsibility reports of the companies, leaving room to modify the definition when facing negative events. In addition, the companies had tendencies of emphasizing positive aspect of their performance and discussing less the negative sides of their business. This tendency was highlighted also when discussing the respective negative events of the case companies as practices such as discussing future performance and measures instead of focusing on the past performance, and avoiding culpability were identified.

In 2014, the European Union approved the directive on disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by certain large undertakings and groups (2014/95/EU), making non-financial reporting mandatory and a legal requirement for many large undertakings. This raises the level of reporting requirements substantially as non-financial reporting becomes more binding by nature and legally constrained. Consequently, this study raises the question whether corporate social responsibility reporting practices on negative events gives the "true and fair view" on the companies' performance, which currently is required in financial accounting but will become more and more as the leading principle also with regard to non-financial reporting.
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