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Social and environmental report assurance: Some interview evidence

Jones, Michael John and Atkins, Jill Frances ORCID: 2010. Social and environmental report assurance: Some interview evidence. Accounting Forum 34 (1) , pp. 20-31. 10.1016/j.accfor.2009.11.002

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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.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Publisher: Taylor and Francis Group
ISSN: 0155-9982
Last Modified: 28 Apr 2023 11:15

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