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Article
Publication date: 15 July 2019

Federica Farneti, James Guthrie and Marcello Canetto

This paper aims to examine the non-financial information disclosed in social reports by an Italian provincial government over time to determine its relevance, contribution…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine the non-financial information disclosed in social reports by an Italian provincial government over time to determine its relevance, contribution and evolution.

Design/methodology/approach

Through a case study analysis, the authors examine 10 years of social reports by one “best practice” Italian provincial government. The authors use content analysis to quantify the level of social and environmental disclosures and use a coding instrument based on the GRI guidelines. The authors use legitimacy theory as a framework.

Findings

The level of disclosure increased over the 10-year period, and the type of disclosures became more detailed. However, many of the economic, social and environmental elements set out in the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines were not disclosed. Moreover, the social report was contingent on a few key factors. The authors find that there has been a decline in interest in social reports by local governments in Italy, suggesting that voluntary disclosure was perhaps a fad that no longer is of interest in Italian local government.

Research limitations/implications

This research is one case study so the findings are not generalisable. The findings suggest that there is a need for regulation in non-financial information disclosures, as the disclosures in the case study organisation were very much at the discretion of the organisation. This has implications for policymakers.

Originality/value

Unlike prior studies, this study takes a longitudinal approach to voluntary disclosure of non-financial information and focusses on the under-explored context of public sector organisations.

Details

Meditari Accountancy Research, vol. 27 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-372X

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Article
Publication date: 5 December 2018

Federica Casonato, Federica Farneti and John Dumay

To present the continuation of a case study by Beck et al. (2017) on an Australian bank (CBD) during the period 2004–2013 by examining whether integrated reporting affects…

Abstract

Purpose

To present the continuation of a case study by Beck et al. (2017) on an Australian bank (CBD) during the period 2004–2013 by examining whether integrated reporting affects relational capital and helps to repair an organisations’ reputation. Both studies examine how a bank rocked by a major scandal in 2004 has attempted to repair its legitimacy through integrated reporting (<IR>). The paper aims to discuss these issue.

Design/methodology/approach

This study is a post facto analysis based on the original research from Beck et al. (2017). The research process involved a case study approach with an analysis framed by impression management theory to investigate whether the information in CBD’s integrated reports is consistent with other information available to investors.

Findings

The authors find there is a gap between what CBD discloses in its integrated reports and what is publicly available in other media. CBD’s talk and actions are not aligned, and that asymmetry translates into a decline of trust in CBD. The bank’s integrated reports reveal how management discloses or withholds information to protect their own interests and at their own discretion. These conclusions indicate that the integrated reporting paradigm is being co-opted by IM strategies to improve legitimacy through trust, reputation and social capital.

Research limitations/implications

Future research needs to reach beyond the organisational boundaries and understand if <IR> adds value for society, or is just a new form of multicapitalism, being an ideology to help the rich become richer? The answers are important if we ever hope to see misconduct disappear from our corporations and for company reports to become documents bearing truth and not espouse rhetoric based on organisational hypocrisy.

Originality/value

The paper adds to the growing body of research investigating <IR> in practice to understand the impact of <IR> and whether it is a new and useful reporting tool or just another management fashion.

Details

Journal of Intellectual Capital, vol. 20 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1469-1930

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Article
Publication date: 27 June 2019

Federica Farneti, Federica Casonato, Monica Montecalvo and Charl de Villiers

The purpose of this study is to examine how social disclosures are influenced by the adoption of integrated reporting (IR), focusing on the three social capitals in the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to examine how social disclosures are influenced by the adoption of integrated reporting (IR), focusing on the three social capitals in the international IR framework, namely, intellectual, human and social and relationship capital.

Design/methodology/approach

This study takes the form of a single case study involving content analyses of annual reports and integrated reports from 2009 to 2017 (i.e. before and after IR adoption in 2013), as well as in-depth, semi-structured interviews with key preparers of the integrated report at New Zealand Post, to study changes in disclosures towards different stakeholder groups, from an internal organisation perspective. The empirical evidence is analysed through the lens of stakeholder theory.

Findings

This study provides empirical evidence that contributes to our understanding of IR’s influence on the disclosure of social information and enhanced stakeholder relations in a public sector context. The study shows that the IR framework promoted a materiality assessment approach with stakeholders, which led to a reduction in social disclosures, while the materiality focus led to the disclosure of social matters more relevant to stakeholders.

Social implications

IR led to meaningful stakeholder engagement, which led to social disclosure that are more relevant to stakeholders.

Originality/value

This study assesses the influence of IR on social disclosures. The findings will be of interest to organisations seeking to enhance stakeholder relations and/or undertake IR and/or social disclosures.

Details

Meditari Accountancy Research, vol. 27 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-372X

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Article
Publication date: 11 April 2016

Carlotta Del Sordo, Federica Farneti, James Guthrie, Silvia Pazzi and Benedetta Siboni

Although there is no mandatory requirement for Italian universities to report beyond a financial report, several universities have produced a social report, despite the…

Abstract

Purpose

Although there is no mandatory requirement for Italian universities to report beyond a financial report, several universities have produced a social report, despite the context of increasing pressure to cut financial resources. This study aims to investigate if Italian state universities produce voluntary social reports and, if so, what they disclose. Also to explore their motivations to do so and the main difficulties encountered.

Design/methodology/approach

Content analysis is applied to the total pool of Italian universities’ social reports obtained. Also, a subsequent online survey was undertaken with preparers of those social reports.

Findings

The findings indicate that a social report is not a common practice in Italian universities. Subsequent online interviews and thematic analysis found that a key individual within the university played a pivotal role in developing a social report. In the pool of reports examined, there were few social and environmental aspects disclosed. Also the respondents to the survey highlighted that the main difficulty in the development of social reports was the lack of systematic collection of non-financial information within the university.

Researchlimitations/implications

The study is limited to the Italian university social reports produced and those answering the online survey.

Originality/value

Most of the prior Italian literature on social reports is normative in nature and focuses on what should be reported, rather than on what was actually reported. This study is an attempt at analysing the pool of Italian universities’ social reports and is useful for understanding how and why organisations voluntarily produce social reports.

Details

Meditari Accountancy Research, vol. 24 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-372X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 5 December 2018

John Dumay, Matteo La Torre and Federica Farneti

This paper examines the gap between reporting and managers’ behaviour to challenge the current theoretical underpinnings of intellectual capital (IC) disclosure practice…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper examines the gap between reporting and managers’ behaviour to challenge the current theoretical underpinnings of intellectual capital (IC) disclosure practice and research. The authors explore how the key features from IC and integrated reporting can be combined to develop an extended model for companies to comply with EU Directive 2014/95/EU and increase trust in corporate disclosures and reports.

Design/methodology/approach

This essay relies on academic literature and examples from practice to critique the theories that explain corporate disclosure and reporting but do not change management behaviour. Based on this critique, the authors argue for a change in the fundamental theories of stewardship to frame a new concept for corporate disclosure incorporating using a multi-capitals framework.

Findings

We argue that, while the inconsistency between organisations’ reporting and behaviour persists, increasing, renewing or extending the information disclosed is not enough to instil trust in corporations. Stewardship over a company’s resources is necessary for increasing trust. The unanticipated consequences of dishonest behaviour by managers and shareholders compels a new application of stewardship theory that works as an overarching guide for managerial behaviour and disclosure. Emanating from this new model is a realisation that managers must abandon agency theory in practice, and specifically the bonus contract.

Research limitations/implications

We call for future empirical research to explore the role of stewardship theory within the dynamics of corporate disclosure using the approach. The research implications of those studies should incorporate the potential impacts on management behaviours within a stewardship framework and how those actions, and their outcomes, are disclosed for rebuilding public trust in business.

Practical implications

The implications for integrated reporting and reports complying with the new EU Directive are profound. Both instruments rely on agency theory to coax managers into reducing information asymmetry by disclosing more. However, agency theory only re-affirms the power managers have over corporate information. It does not change their behaviour, nor to act in the interest of all stakeholders as the stewards of an organisation’s resources.

Social implications

We advocate that, in business education, greater emphasis is needed on how stewardship has a more positive impact on management behaviour than agency, legitimacy and stakeholder theories.

Originality/value

We reflect on the current and compelling issues permeating the international landscape of corporate reporting and disclosure and explain why current theories which explain corporate disclosures do not change behaviour or engender trust in business and offer an alternative disclosure model based on stewardship theory.

Details

Journal of Intellectual Capital, vol. 20 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1469-1930

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 13 April 2017

Nadia Di Giacomo, James Guthrie and Federica Farneti

This paper aims to focus on a global consulting company and examine how it struggled to establish an effective environmental management control system for carbon emissions…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to focus on a global consulting company and examine how it struggled to establish an effective environmental management control system for carbon emissions for its employees’ air travel. The organisation was motivated to reduce its carbon emissions both to comply with regulation and to enhance or maintain corporate reputation.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper takes a case study approach, examining internal and external documents as well as conducting interviews with senior staff.

Findings

The case study investigates how Beta’s management implemented a system to reduce carbon emissions. The organisation focused on air travel, but the study finds that employee travel preferences did not radically change. Rather than reduction in carbon emissions, as planned by head office, air travel carbon emissions actually increased during the period, and, as a consequence, the reported reduction targets were significantly adjusted downwards to meet the new realities.

Practical/implications

The study has implications for both policy and practice for organisations seeking to improve their sustainability performance.

Originality/value

The study responds to calls in the literature to undertake research to identify how management practices might reduce negative sustainability impacts, as there is little evidence of what management practices and accounting tools are being adopted, particularly in relation to carbon emissions from air travel. The paper adds to the creation of new accounting, giving visibility to carbon emission management through case study analysis.

Details

PSU Research Review, vol. 1 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2399-1747

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 6 June 2016

Benedetta Siboni, Daniela Sangiorgi, Federica Farneti and Charl de Villiers

The study aims to raise awareness of the issues to foster further debate in the area of gender (in) accounting. In the process, opportunities for future research are…

Abstract

Purpose

The study aims to raise awareness of the issues to foster further debate in the area of gender (in) accounting. In the process, opportunities for future research are identified and outlined.

Design/methodology/approach

Literature review and a discussion of the implications lead to the identification of opportunities for future research.

Findings

Women are under-represented at senior levels in all walks of life. Where women reach senior positions, they are often paid less than men in similar positions. Countries and organisations with more gender equality do better.

Social implications

Organisations and countries will be better off if they have a good representation of women at all organisational levels in all walks of life.

Originality/value

The authors’ perspectives of the prior literature and the identification of future research opportunities around gender (in) accounting are presented.

Details

Meditari Accountancy Research, vol. 24 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-372X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 30 August 2011

Federica Farneti and Benedetta Siboni

This paper seeks to analyse social report guidelines and practices within Italian local governments (ILGs). First, it compares the contents of the two Italian governmental…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper seeks to analyse social report guidelines and practices within Italian local governments (ILGs). First, it compares the contents of the two Italian governmental guidelines for developing social reports in public sector organisations with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guideline, to determine similarities and differences in disclosures. Second, it examines a group of social reports issued by ILGs, to explore the incidence, frequency, and quality of disclosure, as against the GRI guideline.

Design/methodology/approach

The study uses content analysis to test the nature/content of the governmental guidelines, and to determine what was disclosed in a group of ILGs' social reports. The paper analyses the social reports by applying the Guthrie and Farneti coding instrument, extended by including the Italian governmental guidelines.

Findings

Several observations emerge from the present study. First, from the comparison of the GRI and the Italian governmental guidelines, it emerges that only a few categories of the latter are similar to the GRI and these concern mainly general aspects. Second, the disclosure of categories and elements in the social reports, as against the coding instrument, was found to be fragmentary. The paper concludes that the Italian governmental guidelines are of a managerial nature, and they have little to do with sustainability, except for aspects related to labour.

Originality/value

Little research has been published on social reporting practices within the public sector, unlike the private sector. In Italy social reports are an emerging practice, with a growing interest paid by the government and academia. Nevertheless, published research is mainly of a normative nature, and there is a gap on what actually is in social reports.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 2 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

Keywords

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Book part
Publication date: 11 November 2014

Federica Farneti and John Dumay

This article critically reviews the latest Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines and recommended sustainability topics for public agencies, and presents normative…

Abstract

Purpose

This article critically reviews the latest Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines and recommended sustainability topics for public agencies, and presents normative argument by using Gray’s (2006) ecological and eco-justice (EEJ) approach to produce public value inscriptions of sustainability to represent sustainable public value.

Design/methodology/approach

The study presents a critical analysis and discussion of the changes to the GRI G4 and sustainability topics for public agencies from a managerialistic and EEJ approach.

Findings

We observe that the GRI continues to evolve while paying scant attention to furthering the Sector Supplement for Public Sector Agencies as it remains in its pilot form since its inception in 2005. Changes to the GRI are somewhat enlightening because several of the changes do begin to address a more comprehensive view of how any organization, including public agencies, can contribute to an EEJ approach to sustainability.

Practical implications

In the future it is important to be aware that, as inscriptions, the GRI guidelines have the potential power to influence how managers in public agencies approach sustainability. As Dumay, Guthrie, and Farneti (2010) previously argued, if guidelines continue to approach sustainability from a ‘managerialistic’ approach then there is little hope of public sector agencies adopting EEJ practices. We argue that organizations should act referring to Gray’s EEJ approach.

Details

Public Value Management, Measurement and Reporting
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78441-011-7

Keywords

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Book part
Publication date: 11 November 2014

Abstract

Details

Public Value Management, Measurement and Reporting
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78441-011-7

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