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Formal and informal sustainability reporting: an insight from a mining company’s subsidiary in Ghana

Kwame Oduro Amoako (Accountancy, Sunyani Technical University, Sunyani, Brong Ahafo Region, Ghana)
Isaac Oduro Amoako (Coventry University, Coventry, UK)
James Tuffour (Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, Cambs, UK)
Emmanuel Opoku Marfo (Department of Entrepreneurship and Managerial Sciences, University of Energy and Natural Resources, Sunyani, Ghana)

Journal of Financial Reporting and Accounting

ISSN: 1985-2517

Article publication date: 17 August 2021

Issue publication date: 12 December 2022

283

Abstract

Purpose

Using a subsidiary of a multinational mining company in Ghana as a case, the purpose of this study is to examine the formal and informal forms and channels of sustainability reporting in the emerging economy’s context.

Design/methodology/approach

Semi-structured interviews were conducted amongst managers and employees of the mining company and members of their host community. Based on the interview themes, archival data were extracted from the 2020 Integrated Annual Report of the case company to corroborate the results from the interviews.

Findings

The authors found that most of the stakeholders from the host community interviewed were not aware and, to an extent, not interested in formal sustainability reports. In place of that, the management of the mining subsidiary uses informal channels of communication, including meetings and durbars, to verbally engage the local community and their representatives on sustainability matters. Whilst the formal sustainability reports met the internal requirements set by the parent company, the informal engagements were critical for gaining external legitimacy from the host community and other interest groups. Hence, the authors argue that mining companies and their subsidiaries, particularly in developing economies, need to consider informal forms of sustainability reporting alongside the formal channels to engage local communities to address sustainability issues and avert disruptions to their operations.

Originality/value

Sustainability reporting studies have focussed mainly on annual reports published in print or corporate websites, ignoring informal forms of sustainability reporting. This study sheds light on the informal forms of sustainability reporting. This is important as formal forms of sustainability reporting may be less useful for engaging local mining communities in developing economy contexts.

Keywords

Citation

Amoako, K.O., Amoako, I.O., Tuffour, J. and Marfo, E.O. (2022), "Formal and informal sustainability reporting: an insight from a mining company’s subsidiary in Ghana", Journal of Financial Reporting and Accounting, Vol. 20 No. 5, pp. 897-925. https://doi.org/10.1108/JFRA-12-2020-0368

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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