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Impression management strategies and water disclosures – the case of CDP A-list

Ana Fialho (Department of Business and CEFAGE, Universidade de Évora, Évora, Portugal)
Ana Morais (Advance/CSG, ISEG, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisboa, Portugal)
Rosalina Pisco Costa (Department of Sociology and CICS.NOVA.UÉvora, Universidade de Évora, Évora, Portugal)

Meditari Accountancy Research

ISSN: 2049-372X

Article publication date: 21 October 2020

Issue publication date: 23 June 2021




The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether the introduction of water security, in 2015, as a category in the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) Climate A-List, increases the use of impression management (IM) strategies. The purpose is to analyze how companies reacted to programmes of voluntary disclosure of environmental information.


Mixed-methods research was developed, combining a qualitative and quantitative approach. This study first used a qualitative content analysis of 15 companies’ reports, from the materials sector, which was scored in the CDP Climate A-List, in 2017, to identify the IM strategies adopted. Next, this study conducted a quantitative analysis to test the mean differences of water references between years, industry and region.


Three types of IM strategies are identified (justification and commitment, self-promotion and authorization). The references identified as self-promotion strategy increased in 2016. This indicates companies reacted to the programmes for voluntary disclosure of environmental information by increasing strategies of legitimization and image promotion.

Research limitations/implications

Further research can be developed, focusing only on sustainability reports and extending the number of companies, the period and sectors under analysis.


This paper shows how the inclusion of a topic such as water security in an environmental ranking of companies, namely, CDP A-List, affects the use of IM strategies in voluntary disclosures.



Ana Fialho gratefully acknowledges financial support from Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (grant UIDB/04007/2020).

Ana Morais gratefully acknowledges financial support from FCT-Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (Portugal), national funding through research grant UIDB/04521/2020.


Fialho, A., Morais, A. and Costa, R.P. (2021), "Impression management strategies and water disclosures – the case of CDP A-list", Meditari Accountancy Research, Vol. 29 No. 3, pp. 568-585.



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