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Communicating sustainability: A web content analysis of North American, Asian and European firms

Donna Louise Gill (School of Marketing, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Australia)
Sonia Jane Dickinson (School of Marketing, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Australia)
Arno Scharl (Department of New Media Technology, MODUL University Vienna, Austria)

Journal of Communication Management

ISSN: 1363-254X

Article publication date: 25 July 2008

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this research is to determine firms' sustainability efforts through triple bottom line reporting on the World Wide Web. Sustainability reporting can assist in brand differentiation to stakeholder groups and ultimately lead to a positive corporate reputation.

Design/methodology/approach

Automated web content analysis was used to determine and differentiate 39 oil and gas firms' reporting of economic, social and environmental disclosures across Europe, North America and Asia. Firms were benchmarked for their disclosures against key terms derived from the Global Reporting Initiative.

Findings

North American firms disclose the greatest amount of TBL information for both environmental and economic indicators. European firms are the most prevalent reporters of social indicators. Asian firms displayed the most positive bias to their sustainability reporting.

Research limitations/implications

Future research would benefit from linking firms' TBL reporting with firm performance as well as including a greater range of countries and industries for comparative purposes.

Practical implications

Firms should demonstrate a greater completeness of information across the three TBL indicators to effectively manage their relationships with their key stakeholders. Information should be unbiased and honest for firms to successfully legitimacy.

Originality/value

This paper uses automated content analyse to differentiate disclosure levels of TBL indicators across three different geographical regions.

Keywords

Citation

Gill, D.L., Dickinson, S.J. and Scharl, A. (2008), "Communicating sustainability: A web content analysis of North American, Asian and European firms", Journal of Communication Management, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 243-262. https://doi.org/10.1108/13632540810899425

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited