Journal Article

The boundary of corporate social responsibility reporting: The case of the airline industry


This paper explores the boundary of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) reporting. We present a conceptual analysis of boundary definitions and an empirical analysis of boundary construction in practice. Boundary is an important, yet under-analysed concept, as it specifies the limits of accountability: what activities stakeholders may expect an organization to report on. The adoption of a narrow boundary will omit many impacts from disclosure, reducing the usefulness of CSR reports. Historically boundary has been unchallenged, based on financial reporting concepts of control and significant influence. Recent thought suggests boundaries should vary on an issue-by-issue basis rather than being applied universally on an organizational level. A thematic analysis of 15 CSR reporting guidelines was undertaken to identify what constitutes boundary within CSR reporting. The emergent 40 determinants were ordered and classified into three boundary constructs: Reputation Management; Ownership and Control; Accountability. Reporting content of 35 airline companies was coded according to these constructs, on an issue-by-issue basis (using relevant Global Reporting Initiatives (GRI) indicators). Correlation analysis indicates: the adoption of selective, narrow definitions of boundary; an inverse relationship between boundary determination and stakeholder consultation, and; companies that claim compliance to GRI, on average, select narrower boundaries than non-signatories. Implications for research and for practice are highlighted.

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Ringham, Kate
Miles, Samantha

Oxford Brookes departments

Faculty of Business\Oxford School of Hospitality and Management
Faculty of Business\Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics


Year of publication: 2018
Date of RADAR deposit: 2017-12-20

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

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