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Environmental disclosure in response to public perception of environmental threats: The case of co‐incineration in Portugal

Manuel Castelo Branco (Faculty of Economics, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal)
Teresa Eugénio (School of Technology and Management, Polytechnical Institute of Leiria, Leiria, Portugal)
João Ribeiro (Faculty of Economics, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal)

Journal of Communication Management

ISSN: 1363-254X

Article publication date: 9 May 2008

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine changes in levels of voluntary environmental disclosures of Cimpor and Secil in response to increased public awareness of its activities resulting from the co‐incineration controversy in Portugal.

Design/methodology/approach

The annual reports of Cimpor and Secil for the period 1994‐2003 are analysed. The extent of environmental disclosure directly relating to the co‐incineration and the locations of the co‐incineration sites is also assessed.

Findings

Findings suggest that Cimpor used environmental disclosure as a mechanism of managing its legitimacy which was threatened by the co‐incineration controversy. However, the strategy adopted by Cimpor may be described as one of trivializing or skirting the issue, by not directly addressing it. Secil has directly addressed the issue since its inception.

Research limitations/implications

First, only two companies and their reaction to one environmental event are examined. Second, only annual reports are analysed. Third, the content analysis method employed simply quantifies disclosure in annual reports.

Originality/value

The paper adds to the scarce research on environmental disclosure by Portuguese companies by providing new empirical data. It uses legitimacy theory in a situation in which companies are placed in the spotlight and see their legitimacy threatened not because they have done something detrimental to the environment but because the potential for detrimental environmental impacts resulting from their activities became the focus of the public and media attention.

Keywords

Citation

Castelo Branco, M., Eugénio, T. and Ribeiro, J. (2008), "Environmental disclosure in response to public perception of environmental threats: The case of co‐incineration in Portugal", Journal of Communication Management, Vol. 12 No. 2, pp. 136-151. https://doi.org/10.1108/13632540810881956

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited