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Environmental reporting on the internet by America's Toxic 100: Legitimacy and self-presentation


  • Cho, Charles H.
  • Roberts, Robin W.


This study uses Goffman's self-presentation theory to examine corporate website environmental disclosures from an organizational legitimacy perspective. We argue that corporations use Internet reporting and website platforms to project a more socially acceptable environmental management approach to public stakeholders. We argue further that this disclosure activity is often de-coupled from their actual environmental performance. To test these conjectures, we refine and employ a comprehensive disclosure evaluation metric to assess both the content and the presentation of these types of disclosures and utilize a firm's America's Toxic 100 toxic score, a newly developed measure based on the US Environmental Protection Agency's toxics release inventory (TRI) data, to proxy for environmental performance. Based on empirical tests of four size-matched samples, our findings support our conjectures, showing that worse environmental performers provide more extensive disclosure in terms of content and website presentation.

Suggested Citation

  • Cho, Charles H. & Roberts, Robin W., 2010. "Environmental reporting on the internet by America's Toxic 100: Legitimacy and self-presentation," International Journal of Accounting Information Systems, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 1-16.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ijoais:v:11:y:2010:i:1:p:1-16
    DOI: 10.1016/j.accinf.2009.12.003

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Patten, Dennis M., 2002. "The relation between environmental performance and environmental disclosure: a research note," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 27(8), pages 763-773, November.
    2. repec:eee:ijoais:v:10:y:2009:i:1:p:46-60 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Debreceny, Roger & Gray, Glen L. & Rahman, Asheq, 2002. "The determinants of Internet financial reporting," Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 21(4-5), pages 371-394.
    4. Neu, D. & Warsame, H. & Pedwell, K., 1998. "Managing public impressions: environmental disclosures in annual reports," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 265-282, April.
    5. Patten, Dennis M., 1992. "Intra-industry environmental disclosures in response to the Alaskan oil spill: A note on legitimacy theory," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 17(5), pages 471-475, July.
    6. Cho, Charles H. & Patten, Dennis M., 2007. "The role of environmental disclosures as tools of legitimacy: A research note," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 32(7-8), pages 639-647.
    7. Konar, Shameek & Cohen, Mark A., 1997. "Information As Regulation: The Effect of Community Right to Know Laws on Toxic Emissions," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 109-124, January.
    8. repec:eee:ijoais:v:10:y:2009:i:1:p:1-24 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Patten, Dennis M., 1991. "Exposure, legitimacy, and social disclosure," Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 297-308.
    10. Pontus Hedlin, 1999. "The Internet as a vehicle for investor relations: the Swedish case," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(2), pages 373-381.
    11. Roberts, Robin W., 1992. "Determinants of corporate social responsibility disclosure: An application of stakeholder theory," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 17(6), pages 595-612, August.
    12. Catherine Gowthorpe & Oriol Amat, 1999. "External reporting of accounting and financial information via the Internet in Spain," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(2), pages 365-371.
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    Cited by:

    1. Christopher Marquis & Michael W. Toffel & Yanhua Zhou, 2016. "Scrutiny, Norms, and Selective Disclosure: A Global Study of Greenwashing," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 27(2), pages 483-504, April.
    2. André Gräning & Carsten Felden & Maciej Piechocki, 2011. "Status Quo and Potential of XBRL for Business and Information Systems Engineering," Business & Information Systems Engineering: The International Journal of WIRTSCHAFTSINFORMATIK, Springer;Gesellschaft für Informatik e.V. (GI), vol. 3(4), pages 231-239, August.
    3. Claudio Vitari & Isabelle Bourdon & Florence Rodhain, 2017. "Les systèmes de communication Internet des entreprises du CAC40 : une étude longitudinale (2007-2015)," Grenoble Ecole de Management (Post-Print) halshs-01923267, HAL.
    4. Yang Stephanie Liu & Xiaoyan Zhou & Jessica Yang & Andreas Hoepner, 2016. "Corporate Carbon Emission and Financial Performance: Does Carbon Disclosure Mediate the Relationship in the UK?," ICMA Centre Discussion Papers in Finance icma-dp2016-03, Henley Business School, Reading University.
    5. Siti Rosmaini Binti Mohd Hanafi & Mohd Ariff Bin Kasim, 2014. "The Significance of 18 Weeks in Internet Business Reporting Research (IBR): A New Dimension in Data Collection Procedures," International Journal of Business and Economics, College of Business and College of Finance, Feng Chia University, Taichung, Taiwan, vol. 13(1), pages 59-74, June.
    6. repec:bla:acctfi:v:58:y:2018:i:2:p:315-339 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. repec:kap:jbuset:v:143:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s10551-015-2760-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. repec:kap:jbuset:v:152:y:2018:i:3:d:10.1007_s10551-016-3375-4 is not listed on IDEAS


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