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Methodological issues - Reflections on quantification in corporate social reporting content analysis

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A key assumption underlying many corporate social reporting content analysis studies is that volume of disclosure signifies the relative importance of disclosures. Most of these studies have only quantified disclosures in annual reports, and there is disagreement within the literature regarding the best way to measure each individual disclosure. Based on observations made during the conduct of a 100-year content analysis study, which examined a broad range of Shell's corporate reports, this paper argues that an exclusive focus on annual reports is likely to result in an incomplete picture of reporting practices. It also contributes further insights to the debate on measurement techniques, arguing that while measurement in sentences may be carried out with greater accuracy than measurement in proportions of a page, the former is likely to give less relevant results than the latter.

Keywords: Company Reports; Disclosure; Environmental Management; Social Responsibility

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: May 1, 2000

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