Assurance Statement Practices In Corporate Social Reporting Accounting Essay


This chapter will discourse old academic and professional literature associating to assurance statement patterns in corporate societal coverage. Academic literature related to corporate societal duty ( CSR ) , corporate societal revelation ( CSD ) , CS coverage, confidence statements, different characteristics of confidence statements, guidelines related to confidence statements and their impact on the stakeholders will be presented in item in this chapter. Recent old ages have witness a important addition in the research sing corporate societal coverage, societal revelation and is deriving attending of research workers for over 20 old ages ( Khan, 2010 ) . Researchers across the Earth have been seeking to place the tendencies and issues related to CSD and one really of import facet of it i.e.

confidence statement. Recently CSR has been on the rise ( Sutantoputra, 2009 ) .

Corporate Social Responsibility ( CSR )

( Gamerschlag et al. , 2010, p. 1 ) defined CSR as “ company ‘s voluntary part to sustainable development which goes beyond legal demands ” , they further argued that CSR patterns are on the rise in recent old ages and this tendency is apparent from the increasing CSR revelation and sustainability studies. Harmonizing to ( Perrini, 2005 ) CSR is a construct in which companies communicate with their stakeholders by including societal and environmental issues into day-to-day concern operations voluntarily, are accountable to their stakeholders and is a beginning of competitory advantage ( Sutantoputra, 2009 ) .For old ages companies have been utilizing fiscal studies to circulate information sing their actions and impact of those actions on both stockholders and stakeholders. Basic intent of those fiscal studies has been to function chiefly the demands of stockholders.

This behaviour of corporate direction has been encouraged by legal and wage construction of companies particularly in Anglo-Saxon states such as US and UK where managerial fringe benefits are normally linked with stockholder wealth maximization via portion monetary value of the company, which promotes limited stockholder focal point outlook instead than wider stakeholder oriented attack ( Adams and Whelan, 2009 ) .This tendency is altering as companies are seeking to be more socially responsible towards wider community and is developing into an of import facet of concern communicating ( Perrini, 2005 ) . Modern concern environment requires companies to be sensitive to the demands of all its stakeholders. Companies are expected to prosecute with wider stakeholders in more effectual mode by administering information about their actions non merely by fiscal studies but by more effectual and easy accessible agencies and this comes under the sphere of CSR ( Khan, 2010 ) . Changeless demand by stakeholders to be more socially responsible has forced direction to be more socially and environmentally responsible ( Elijido-Ten et al. , 2010 ) .Businesss operate in a society and therefore go portion of the overall system which is interlinked i.e.

every entity in that system has some direct and indirect impact on eachother. This interrelatedness among entities in a societal system creates certain chances for companies to move ethically, so they take up some CSR tools to show their positive image to society of which corporate societal revelation is one ( Preuss, 2010, p. 336 ) , and by describing about the effects of their actions on society could derive stakeholders back up, positive repute, and long-run endurance ( Perrini, 2005 ; Khan, 2010 ) . Infect repute edifice is the chief ground behind companies set abouting CSR activities ( Cooper and Owen, 2007, p. 649 ) .

Corporate Social Disclosure ( CSD )

Corporate societal duty leads companies to unwrap impact of their actions on stakeholders, society and environment.

Companies engage in CSD when they unwrap information about the impact of their actions on society and it is normally considered voluntary instead than compulsory. CSD is defined as “ the information that a company discloses about its environmental impact and its relationship with its stakeholders by agencies of relevant communicating channels ” ( Gamerschlag et al. , 2010, p. 2-3 ) , CSD is proviso of information by company associating to the issues sing environment, community, employee, consumer issues and makes companies accountable to wider stakeholders instead than turn toing the demands of lone stockholders and creditors as is the instance in fiscal coverage ( Smith et al. , 2005, p.

124-125 ) and is considered as a communicating channel between company and stakeholders. CSD is going of import facet of modern concern environment as companies have increased the revelation of environmental information in both fiscal and non-financial studies ( Elijido-Ten et al. , 2010 ; Brown and Deegan, 1998 ) .

Motivations behind CSD

There is an increasing displacement in the managerial penchant every bit far as CSD is concerned ; companies are no longer trusting on lone fiscal studies to turn to stakeholders. In the recent decennaries corporate societal and environmental coverage has been emerged as a complement to fiscal coverage to undertake societal and environmental issues being faced by companies ( Baker, 2010, p. 847 ) .

There could be legion grounds behind this tendency ; ( Adams and Whelan, 2009, p. 122 ) suggested that voluntary information revelation depends upon the company belief that it is ethical to inform public about the environmental impact of the company ‘s actions or to conceal the harmful actions that might impact company ‘s position or it is assumed that societal revelation is critical to maintain the occupation and to transport on gaining high wages particularly in the instance of top direction. Public force per unit area after corporate prostrations and dissensions has made companies to react to public demands by unwraping information about their impact on wider society ( Benn et al. , 2009 ) .

Similarly, ( Smith et al. , 2005 ) argued corporate prostrations of big houses such as Enron, WorldCom and Global Crossing have showed that corporate influence is non restricted to stockholders merely, it affects larger society. ( Darnell et al. , 2009, p.

171 ) argued that over the past two decennaries companies have acted harmonizing to the stakeholder demands by going more environmentally responsible.Despite its positive facets CSD could be used as a manipulative tool by the companies as ( Branco and Rodriguez, 2007 ) argued that motive behind the determination by companies to travel down CSR way due the realisation that CSR could be good for the company in the long tally and it could assist the company addition competitory advantage over its rivals or it could be used to determine perceptual experience of stakeholders sing company by portraying positive image of the company. ( Chiang, 2010 ) suggested that company and its coverage patterns do acquire affected by environmental issues, environmental revelation could be treated as part to society by companies ( Sun et al. , 2010, p. 679 ) .

Social issues have become so of import late that societal and environmental revelation non merely affects company ‘s relationship with stakeholders but it could impact investors ‘ assurance in the company every bit good. This fact has made investors cautious about company patterns particularly in their traffics with environment and society ensuing in an addition in societal and environmental revelation by companies to fulfill both investors and stakeholders ( Beets and Souther, 1999 ) .Unlike in the past companies are unwraping their societal and environmental information in separate studies apart from one-year studies.

Corporate Social and Environmental Reporting

CS coverage has been defined by ( Unerman and O’Dwyer, 2007, p. 333 ) as a pattern in which companies communicate with stakeholders about their CSR policies, patterns. Companies used fiscal studies to describe on their societal and environmental activities peculiarly in states like Australia, UK and US ( Brown and Deegan, 1998 ) but this tendency has been switching towards stand-alone CS coverage due to increased attending being given to the issue by both academic and professional research workers ( Kuruppu and Milne, 2010 ) who are seting force per unit area on corporate directors to turn to their societal and environmental actions in separate CS studies ( Porter, 2009 ) .

Corporate societal and environmental coverage although a new phenomenon ( Adams and Evans, 2004, p. 99 ) has emerged as chief instrument of CSD by organisations in recent old ages ( Darnell et al. , 2009 ) to pass on with their stakeholders ( Park and Brorson, 2005 ) . Companies have taken different paths such as web based environmental, societal and late sustainability studies to unwrap about their purposes sing societal issues ( Cooper and Owen, 2007. P. 649 ) and it is up to companies to take which communicating channel would be more effectual in making appropriate audience ( Sutantoputra, 2009 ) .

Separate environmental studies are going progressively common pattern among companies to describe on their actions in last few decennaries ( Deegan et al. , 2006 ) , being adopted by companies across the Earth ( Edgley et al. , 2010 ; Jones and Solomon, 2010 ; Moneva et al. , 2007 ; O’Dwyer and Owen, 2005 ; Owen and O’Dwyer, 2004 ) to carry through their duty sing corporate duty ( Perego, 2009 ; Perrini, 2005 ) .Large companies around the universe are recognizing the importance of turn toing stakeholder issues in a more responsible mode and this is apparent from KPMG ( 2005 ) study that between 2004 and 2005 more than half of G250 and about 3rd of N100 communicated their societal, environmental and sustainability public presentation via corporate duty study ( Manetti and Becatii, 2008, p. 289 ) , CS coverage patterns are going progressively prevailing among multi-nationals ( Unerman and O’Dwyer, 2007 ) . Similarly, ( O’Dwyer and Owen, 2005, p.

206 ; Owen and O’Dwyer, 2004, p. 1 ; Park and Brorson, 2005 ) mentioned that harmonizing to KPMG ( 2002 ) study 45 % of the top 250 companies of the Global Fortune 500 ( GFT250 ) issue an environmental, societal or sustainability studies compared to 35 % in 1999. Number of companies publishing environmental studies has increased from 12 % in 1993 to 28 % in 2002 ( Park and Brorson, 2005, p. 1095 ) .

Sustainability Coverage

CS coverage although is in its early phases but has made a rapid betterment late, societal concerns have made companies to increase their interaction with stakeholders ( Sun et al.

, 2010 ) . Different communicating channels are being used by the companies to describe about their corporate societal duties. Sustainability studies have emerged as one of the most outstanding and widely used medium by the companies to demo their societal duty certificates. Sustainability reports become common pattern after 2000 with the debut of GRI criterion which provides waies for the companies to follow in their societal, environmental and economical issues ( Baxi and Ray, 2009 ) , and is considered to be an index of corporate answerability and stakeholder credence of company ‘s policies ( Villiers and Staden, 2010 ) . Corporations are get downing to take CSR revelation earnestly which is apparent from addition usage of societal, environmental and sustainability studies ( Perrini, 2005 ; Sutantoputra, 2009 ; Porter 2009 ) .

Main rational behind sustainability coverage is that organisations are accountable to all its stakeholders ‘ non merely stockholders and through sustainability studies companies express their answerability towards stakeholders ( Boele and Kemp, 2005 ) . In academic literature answerability has been defined as “ the responsibility to supply an history, by no agencies needfully a fiscal history, or calculation of those actions for which one is held responsible ” ( Cooper and Owen, 2007, p. 651 ) , to give an history of one ‘s action and being punished for nor performing responsibilities satisfactorily ( Porter, 2009 ) , responsibility of accountor to describe to accountee in instance of relationship between both and accountee has the power to keep accountor responsible for his/her determination or actions ( Crofts and Bisman, 2010 ) , user of resources must be answerable about how resources have been consumed and what impact that ingestion of resources could hold on society ( Naser et al. , 2006 ) and there appears to be a demand of greater corporate answerability in concern environment ( Kuruppu and Milne, 2010 ) and unwraping more information ( Naser et al. , 2006, p. 5 ) .

Sustainability coverage unlike environmental coverage which covers merely environmental impact of organisational activities has much broader focal point including societal and fiscal dimensions of corporate activities ( Monvea et al. , 2007 ) , although recently companies have been including societal and economic issues in their environmental studies therefore altering them into sustainability studies ( Park and Brorson, 2005 ) . This is why it is besides considered as ternary bottom line coverage that includes economic, societal and environment public presentation of the company ( O’Connor and Spangenberg, 2009 ; Porter, 2009 ) , defined as “ publicly released papers turn toing societal, environmental and economic public presentation of the coverage organisation ” ( Deegan et al. , 2006 ) .Sustainability coverage is on the addition but non without its issues and concerns. Research workers have been invariably seeking to unwrap issues relevant to sustainability or societal coverage.

There could be assorted factors involve that cast uncertainty on the utility and dependability of the sustainability or societal coverage. One such issue is completeness of the study which is linked with the sum of relevant information being disclosed in the study by the company ( Adams and Evans, 2004 ) . Management could utilize societal coverage for personal additions, ( Baker, 2010 ) argued that troughs think that the aim of stakeholder battle could be served through proper usage of sustainability coverage which in bend could do directors look responsible in forepart of stakeholders, stakeholder engagement is minimal in societal coverage bespeaking that answerability to stakeholders is non the primary concern of direction ( O’Dwyer and Owen, 2005 ) . Interaction with all stakeholders particularly those who are affected most by the action of the company is needed if the aim of enhanced answerability is to be achieved which is surely non the instance in existent corporate universe at the minute ( Cooper and Owen, 2007 ) . Despite the turning tendency in corporate societal and environmental coverage there is still a lick of assurance by public on corporate public presentation sing societal revelation so in order to derive that public trust companies must invariably larn and better their interaction with stakeholders and coverage procedures ( Dando and Swift, 2003 ) . This deficiency of public trust on the content of sustainability studies creates credibleness spread and makes sustainability studies less utile for traditional stakeholders i.

e. stockholders, loaners, clients, employees and local communities ( Manetti and Becatii, 2008, p. 289 ) . Similarly, ( O’Dwyer et al. , 2011 ) suggested that sustainability studies are being criticized in a sense that they put a head covering on corporate environmental activities alternatively of doing them more crystalline. Hiding all the negative facets of company determinations and actions sing societal issues in sustainability studies becomes easier as companies are non required by jurisprudence to bring forth sustainability studies as opposed to fiscal studies ( Park and Brorson, 2005 ) .

If sustainability studies are to be dependable and credibleness spread which might hold inauspicious affect on organisation ‘s repute ( Kim et al. , 2010 ) to be reduced, there has to be a mechanism to guarantee that the information provided in sustainability studies could be trusted upon. Independent confidence or confirmation of sustainability or societal studies helps heighten corporate answerability and increase stakeholder assurance on reported information ( Beets and Souther, 1999 ) .

Assurance statement

Aoording to the International Federation of Accountants ( IFAC ) confidence statement can be defined as “ a procedure in which a practician expresses a decision designed to heighten the grade of assurance that intended users can hold about the rating or measuring of a capable affair that is the duty of a party, other than the intended users or practician, against standards ” ( Park and Brorson, 2005, p.

1096 ) . With the addition in CS describing around the universe there is besides attach toing addition in external confidence ( Kuruppu and Milne, 2010 ; O’Dwyer et al. , 2011 ; Owen and O’Dwyer, 2004 ) . Main rational behind credibleness is trust and confidence warrants that the information presented by companies in their societal and sustainability studies is true and just ( Dando and Swift, 2003 ; Edgley et al. , 2010 ) , this widening credibleness spread between company and stakeholders contributed to the upward tendency in sustainability confidence ( Owen and O’Dwyer, 2004 ) .

Assurance means stakeholders have more assurance on those sustainability studies that are externally or independently verified and is comparatively recent phenomenon ( Deegan et al. , 2006, p. 332 ) .Sustainability studies are expected to function the answerability position and cut down the credibleness spread ( Dando and Swift, 2003 ) .

Credibility of the reported information that companies use in their sustainability studies is greatly enhanced if they are verified externally since the whole point of sustainability coverage is to derive stakeholder trust ( Adams and Evans, 2004 ; Jones and Solomon, 2010 ) , and confidence pattern should be devised in such ways that complement that wider stakeholder answerability position by including stakeholders concerns in confidence procedure ( Dando and Swift, 2003, p. 198 ) . Assurance statements heighten the quality of sustainability studies is apparent from the fact that 68 % of the universe ‘s best sustainability studies have confidence statements harmonizing to SustianAbility ‘s ( 2002 ) analysis ( O’Dywer and Owen, 2005, p. 206 ; Owen and O’Dwyer, 2004, p. 1 ) , they further argued that stakeholders want confidence from directors sing their direction of societal and environmental issues in a true and just mode. Similarly, ( Park and Brorson, 2005 ) argued that in order to counter stakeholders demands of true and just representation of the company ‘s activities confidence statements are being used as a tool.

Recent Tendencies in Assurance Practices

External third-party confidence was non a common pattern in CS coverage, it was merely until late that it has gained popularity in modern concern environment. In 2002, 29 % of GFT250 companies included confirmation in their studies compared to 19 % in 1999 and 27 % of 440 companies from the top 100 in 19 states had study confirmation in 1999 ( Deegan et al. , 2006, p. 333 ; O’Dwyer and Owen, 2005 ; Owen and O’Dwyer, 2004 ) , likewise ( Kuruppu and Milne, 2010, p. 4 ) stated that KPMG study shows addition in confidence proviso to 30 % in 2005 from 20 % in 1996, but this increased tendency is non unvarying everyplace as they further argued that confidence patterns in UK and Italy are more prevailing compared to US, Canada and Germany. Wide spread credence of ternary bottom line or sustainability coverage added to assurance statement patterns specially in environmentally sensitive industries ( Deegan et al. , 2006 ) because of their direct impact on environment and society. Similarly, ( O’Dwyer and Owen, 2007, p.

78 ) mentioned that 40 % of sustainability studies included external confidence in 2003 up from 17 % ten old ages ago, has come to the attending of concern community late after changeless demands of societal lobbying groups, communities and stakeholders, and is increasing internationally ( Edgley et al. , 2010, p. 532 ; Jones and Solomon, 2010 ) .

Recently, ( O’Dwyer et al. , 2011, p. 1-2 ) argued that KPMG ‘s ( 2008 ) study mentioned that upward tendency in confidence patterns is apparent as 40 % of G250 companies included confidence statements in their CS studies compared to 30 % in 2005 study and ( 2008 ) showed mean 20 % addition of confidence patterns among companies per twelvemonth from 1997 to 2007.Corporate activities significantly better if there is proper cheque and balance on them. ( Darnell et al.

, 2009, p. 185 ) suggested that societal and environmental audits lead to better operational public presentation by companies which in bend lead to better overall company public presentation, so assurance statements in societal coverage might hold deductions non merely on non-financial facets but besides on the fiscal public presentation of the company.Assurance statements like CS coverage is voluntary in nature which might impede the broad spread credence of confidence patterns. ( Jones and Solomon, 2010 ) stated that confidence patterns being voluntary in nature is non developed much in the past nevertheless late there is although limited but turning organic structure of literature seeking to research the issues related to assurance patterns to do it a more common pattern among companies. Fiscal studies are still trusted more as compared to sustainability studies by stakeholders specially stockholders when it comes to showing true image of organisational activities, but inclusion of confidence statements or confirmation of sustainability studies has possible to the tackle the unfavorable judgment of CS coverage ( Jones and Solomon, 2010 ) , merely like fiscal audits increase the dependability of fiscal studies third party confidence adds societal coverage ( Park and Brorson, 2005 ) . Assurance statement pattern being comparatively new country needs more in-depth analysis by research workers so that it could be understood and widely accepted around the universe.

As ( O’Dwyer et al. , 2011 ) argued that confidence statements in sustainability coverage is normally studied in relation to its content most of the times which makes the analysis of its existent pattern in concern environment a spot left buttocks and there is room for farther research in this country.