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The abandoned mandatory OFR: a lost opportunity for SER?

Jill Frances Solomon (Senior Lecturer based at BRASS (the ESRC‐funded centre for Business Relationships, Accountability, Sustainability and Society), Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)
Carla Rhianon Pel Edgley (Professional Tutor, Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)

Social Responsibility Journal

ISSN: 1747-1117

Article publication date: 1 August 2008

Abstract

Purpose

An important outcome of the UK Company Law Review (CLR) involved draft regulations for a mandatory operating and financial review (OFR). The unprecedented abandonment of this mandatory OFR in November 2005 threw debate about the genuine motivations underlying the CLR into disarray. This paper seeks to reinterpret the abandonment of a mandatory OFR using interview research.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors conducted a series of 24 interviews with companies from the FTSE100 between May and August 2004, prior to the abandonment.

Findings

The interviews showed that the OFR was perceived as an appropriate vehicle for social and environmental reporting (SER). The interviewees considered that a mandatory OFR would provide a means of forcing SER into the mainstream and making it mandatory at a basic level. The interviews revealed that processes for the identification of material SER differ widely between organisations, ranging from embryonic to highly structured. Further, interviewees believed that directors had the final veto on inclusion of information. Despite directors' inclination to hide behind materiality as a means of avoiding SER, interviewees did not view the proposed mandatory OFR as “greenwash” but as a vehicle that would increase stakeholder confidence, as processes underlying the proposed OFR would be audited.

Practical implications

The research implies that abandoning the mandatory OFR represented a lost opportunity for SER.

Originality/value

The paper provides new evidence on the processes of materiality decision making in the SER area as well as strong endorsement of the mandatory OFR, contrary to the government turn‐around.

Keywords

Citation

Solomon, J.F. and Rhianon Pel Edgley, C. (2008), "The abandoned mandatory OFR: a lost opportunity for SER?", Social Responsibility Journal, Vol. 4 No. 3, pp. 324-348. https://doi.org/10.1108/17471110810892848

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited