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SLAPPed: the relationship between SLAPP suits and changed ESG reporting by firms

Olivia Giles (Crowe Horwath (Austy) Pty Ltd, Albury, Australia)
Daniel Murphy (School of Accounting and Finance, Charles Sturt University, Albury, Australia)

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal

ISSN: 2040-8021

Article publication date: 7 March 2016

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to explore any potential link between the corporate issue of a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) with a changed environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting focus as part of a complementary communicative legitimation strategy.

Design/methodology/approach

A longitudinal content analysis of the annual reports of three sample Australian corporations was undertaken, measuring changes in ESG disclosure levels and disclosure focus around the time a SLAPP was issued by each sample firm.

Findings

This paper provides support for the contention that both the number of ESG disclosures and the type of ESG disclosures changed after the sample firms issued SLAPPs.

Research limitations/implications

A number of limitations are identified within the paper, including difficulties identifying when SLAPPs are initiated.

Originality/value

To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first investigation of the relationship between SLAPPs and ESG reporting, and this study helps open up a new area of research into how ESG reporting is used by corporations in a strategic manner.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors wish to acknowledge the considerable advice and guidance received from the Journal Editors and the anonymous Referees. The authors would also like to acknowledge the advice and encouragement from participants of the 2013 A-CSEAR conference in Hamilton NZ where an earlier version of this paper was presented.

Citation

Giles, O. and Murphy, D. (2016), "SLAPPed: the relationship between SLAPP suits and changed ESG reporting by firms", Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, Vol. 7 No. 1, pp. 44-79. https://doi.org/10.1108/SAMPJ-12-2014-0084

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited