The relationship among firm characteristics & guidelines in Corporate Social Responsibility Reports

Sara Kruempelstaedter

Kruempelstaedter ReportsSource: sustainability.gwu.edu

I am studying the impact of firm characteristics on their reliance on various guidelines for their disclosures.  Firms can choose to rely on various guidelines when preparing their reports including the UN Global Compact (UNGC), ISO 26000, the OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises(OECD), IFC Performance Standards (IFC), and the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).  I will analyze if there is a correlation between the characteristics of the firm such as the size of the firm, the region of the firm, the sector of the firm, or the type of assurance of the report and the use of the various guidelines.  

I think it is important to study this to see the impact that these organizations have on tangible action such as environmental disclosures.  It is important for these organizations to know what type of firms rely on them so that they can better target their audience. As environmental reports becoming a standard part of financial statement disclosures, they will need to be standardized.  This research will help the standardizing organization understand which guidelines are preferred by different types of companies, so they can better incorporate aspects that each type of firm prefers and thus it is fairer for all firms.

I will analyze a database (GRI's Sustainability Disclosure Database) to find correlations and trends in the data between the mention of these guidelines and other firm characteristics such as size, sector, and type of assurance used.  I want to see if there is a trend which organization firms are referencing that might influence their decision of which one to look to for guidance. I will then produce a research paper that outlines my findings.