A cross-national comparison of transparency signaling in corporate social responsibility reporting: The United States, South Korea, and China cases

Hyejoon Rim, Jisu Kim, Chuqing Dong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In response to growing public scrutiny of ethical business practices, corporations have become actively engaged in reporting their social and environmental performances publicly. Drawing on the institutional theory to explain the growing diffusion of corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting on a global, yet distinctively specific level of adoption, this study examines the level of transparency signaling in CSR reports in three countries: the United States, South Korea, and China. In addition, within each country, the study compares the level of transparency signaling between environmentally sensitive and nonsensitive industries. Using a computer-aided content analysis program, DICTION 7.0, the study analyzed 181 CSR reports from 2014 to 2017. Results show that the three dimensions of transparency signaling—participation, substantial information, and accountability—in CSR reports varied across different countries. Firms in the United States and South Korea showed higher scores in the participation and accountability dimensions than China, whereas firms in China showed relatively high scores in the substantial information dimension. The theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1517-1529
Number of pages13
JournalCorporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management
Volume26
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019

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social responsibility
transparency
South Korea
China
Federal Government Report on Social Policy
environmental reporting
firm
accountability
corporation
content analysis
responsibility
participation
corporate social responsibility
comparison
Transparency
Corporate Social Responsibility
Cross-national comparison
industry
performance

Keywords

  • CSR report
  • DICTION
  • content analysis
  • corporate social responsibility (CSR)
  • institutional theory
  • transparency

Cite this

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abstract = "In response to growing public scrutiny of ethical business practices, corporations have become actively engaged in reporting their social and environmental performances publicly. Drawing on the institutional theory to explain the growing diffusion of corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting on a global, yet distinctively specific level of adoption, this study examines the level of transparency signaling in CSR reports in three countries: the United States, South Korea, and China. In addition, within each country, the study compares the level of transparency signaling between environmentally sensitive and nonsensitive industries. Using a computer-aided content analysis program, DICTION 7.0, the study analyzed 181 CSR reports from 2014 to 2017. Results show that the three dimensions of transparency signaling—participation, substantial information, and accountability—in CSR reports varied across different countries. Firms in the United States and South Korea showed higher scores in the participation and accountability dimensions than China, whereas firms in China showed relatively high scores in the substantial information dimension. The theoretical and practical implications are discussed.",
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