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Achieving quality in social reporting: the role of surveys in stakeholder consultation

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More companies are publishing environmental and social reports, but concerns remain about the extent to which these reports reflect a genuine intention of businesses to make themselves accountable for their social and environmental performance or whether they are merely a way of maintaining corporate reputation in the face of external criticism. Dialogue with stakeholders lies at the heart of Corporate Social Responsibility practice. While questionnaire surveys are a main method for consulting large stakeholder groups, little has been written about how the data used in CSR reports are generated. This paper argues that the survey method can be adapted in ways to promote dialogue and hence stakeholder inclusion, without loss of technical rigour. It presents a case study of how one company conducted a large-scale multinational employee survey and identifies key design features of the survey process that were used to enhance the quality of dialogue between the company and its employees. The purpose of stakeholder consultation and dialogue is to find mutually agreed solutions to identified issues of concern. It can only claim to be an ethical business practice if it strives to achieve this overarching purpose.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Kingston University Business School, UK, 2: Director of Stakeholder Communications at Novo Nordisk

Publication date: 2002-07-01

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