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Social and environmental report assurance: Some interview evidence


  • Jones, Michael John
  • Solomon, Jill Frances


The steady growth of social and environmental reporting (SER) is being accompanied by an increase in social and environmental reporting assurance (SERA). The existing literature on SERA suggests that it is necessary to build credibility and trust among corporate stakeholders. Prior work has also found evidence of managerial and professional capture of SERA. In this paper, we present empirical evidence from interviews with corporate social responsibility representatives from 20 UK listed companies on whether they consider SERA to be necessary. We believe this to be the first research into SERA that uses an interview method. Our interviews revealed mixed feelings. Half of the respondents believed that external SERA would enhance credibility and trust which confirmed the prior literature. However, the other half believed that external SERA was not necessary, believing that internal assurance was sufficient. This was because they saw SERA as predominantly a managerial tool, useful for checking the efficiency of internal management control systems, rather than as a mechanism for enhancing corporate accountability to stakeholders and building credibility and trust. The potential for SERA to be a mechanism whereby greater dialogue is created between companies and their stakeholders on social and environmental issues is not being harnessed. This paper thus demonstrates a fundamental difference between the external prior normative literature and the managerial motivation in the SERA area.

Suggested Citation

  • Jones, Michael John & Solomon, Jill Frances, 2010. "Social and environmental report assurance: Some interview evidence," Accounting forum, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 20-31.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:accfor:v:34:y:2010:i:1:p:20-31
    DOI: 10.1016/j.accfor.2009.11.002

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Theodore J. Mock & Christiane Strohm & Kevin M. Swartz, 2007. "An Examination of Worldwide Assured Sustainability Reporting," Australian Accounting Review, CPA Australia, vol. 17(41), pages 67-77, March.
    2. Craig Deegan & Barry J. Cooper & Marita Shelly, 2006. "An Investigation of TBL Report Assurance Statements: Australian Evidence," Australian Accounting Review, CPA Australia, vol. 16(39), pages 2-18, July.
    3. Power, Michael, 1996. "Making things auditable," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 21(2-3), pages 289-315.
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    Cited by:

    1. Orhan Akisik & Graham Gal, 2014. "Financial performance and reviews of corporate social responsibility reports," Mathematical Methods of Operations Research, Springer;Gesellschaft für Operations Research (GOR);Nederlands Genootschap voor Besliskunde (NGB), vol. 25(3), pages 259-288, December.
    2. repec:eee:accfor:v:42:y:2018:i:2:p:184-198 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:eee:spacre:v:21:y:2018:i:1:p:48-62 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Thomas Kaspereit & Kerstin Lopatta, 2013. "The Value Relevance of SAM's Corporate Sustainability Ranking and GRI Sustainability Reporting in the European Stock Markets," ZenTra Working Papers in Transnational Studies 19 / 2013, ZenTra - Center for Transnational Studies, revised Oct 2013.
    5. repec:eee:aosoci:v:58:y:2017:i:c:p:15-31 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Giacomo Manetti & Simone Toccafondi, 2012. "The Role of Stakeholders in Sustainability Reporting Assurance," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 107(3), pages 363-377, May.
    7. O'Dwyer, Brendan & Owen, David & Unerman, Jeffrey, 2011. "Seeking legitimacy for new assurance forms: The case of assurance on sustainability reporting," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 31-52, January.
    8. repec:eee:advacc:v:30:y:2014:i:2:p:413-424 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. John Smith & Ros Haniffa & Jenny Fairbrass, 2011. "A Conceptual Framework for Investigating ‘Capture’ in Corporate Sustainability Reporting Assurance," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 99(3), pages 425-439, March.
    10. Ben Marx & Vanessa van Dyk, 2011. "Sustainability reporting and assurance: An analysis of assurance practices in South Africa," Meditari Accountancy Research, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 19(1), pages 39-55, October.
    11. María Luisa Pajuelo Moreno, 2013. "Assessment of the Impact of Business Activity in Sustainability Terms. Empirical Confirmation of Its Determination in Spanish Companies," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(6), pages 1-32, May.


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