Monetary information in sustainability reports: How is it related with stakeholders?
Koskela, M., Joensuu, K., & Onkila, T. (2014). Monetary information in sustainability reports: How is it related with stakeholders?. In EMAN 2014 : 17th EMAN Conference. From Sustainability Reporting to Sustainability Management Control. Rotterdam: Erasmus School of Economics; Erasmus School of Accounting & Assurance (ESAA).
Sustainability reports have recently become a central tool for a corporation in convincing different stakeholder of their sustainability performance. The research and especially criticism towards sustainability reports is increasing. One solution for the criticism would be that companies provide more monetary arguments of their sustainability work. Currently there is a research gap of the content of the monetary sustainability reporting. This paper aims to address this gap by analysing how three Finnish companies construct the classification of stakeholders in terms of monetary information in their sustainability reports between 2003 and 2012. We studied three Finnish companies which represented three different business sectors, namely aviation, energy and financial. The sustainability reports of these three case companies from 2003-2012 were used as research material in this study. The reports were content analysed. Monetary information is understood here as quantitative information in connection with a currency unit. We identified seven different stakeholder groups in relation to monetary information in the sustainability reports: corporation, internal stakeholders, governmental stakeholders, financial stakeholders, supply chain stakeholders, societal stakeholders and service provider stakeholders. The corporation was the most often mentioned stakeholder but also internal and supply chain stakeholders were rather often mentioned. We further categorized the monetary information within the stakeholder groups into descriptions of the aims, benefits, futures, investments, philanthropic actions, recognitions, statements, sufferings and trends. Most often the monetary information was represented as statements and trends. The results portray the limitedness of monetary information in the sustainability reports. Monetary information is still clearly the minority of the sustainability information provided by the companies. In addition, the monetary information remains mainly disjointed with the rest of the content of the report. The sums, their magnitudes or developments are not commented. Based on the findings of this study, we encourage companies to reconsider the use of monetary information in the reports. Monetary information would serve as a powerful argument for sustainability in business. However, the current disjointed and unexplained use of it is more likely to increase criticism towards sustainability reports than to serve the integration of sustainability into business and stakeholder relationships. ...
PublisherErasmus School of Economics; Erasmus School of Accounting & Assurance (ESAA)
Conference2014 EMAN Conference, 27-28 March 2014, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Is part of publicationFrom Sustainability Reporting to Sustainability Management Control : 2014 EMAN Conference. Rotterdam: Erasmus School of Economics; Erasmus School of Accounting & Assurance (ESAA). ISBN 9789056770006.
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