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Perceptions on the emergence and future development of corporate social disclosure in Ireland: Engaging the voices of non-governmental organisations

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Purpose ‐ This study presents an in-depth investigation of non-governmental organisations' (NGO) perceptions of CSD (corporate social disclosure) in Ireland. It commences the process of addressing a lacuna in the CSD literature, whereby the perspectives of non-managerial stakeholders have been largely ignored. In particular, it responds to O'Dwyer call for research to examine the nature and extent of stakeholder demand for CSD in Ireland in order to inform the future development of accountable Irish CSD practices. Design/methodology/approach ‐ Evidence is collected from in-depth interviews with senior representatives of major Irish NGOs. The paper focuses on the nature of NGO demand for administrative reforms encompassing types of CSD and the prospects for supporting institutional reforms aimed at further empowering less powerful stakeholder groups. Findings ‐ A demand for the development of stand-alone, mandated, externally verified CSD mechanisms predominates the perspectives. This is motivated by a desire to see stakeholder "rights" to information enforced given Irish companies' apparent resistance to engaging in complete and credible CSD. A number of perceived obstacles to the development of institutional mechanisms designed to support any desired CSD developments are exposed. These encompass: active corporate resistance to discursive dialogue, corporate resistance to voluntary information disclosure, a compliant political elite unwilling to confront the corporate sector on social and environmental issues, and a fragmented NGO community which has difficulty in raising public awareness about corporate social and environmental impacts. Evidence of antagonism between certain NGOs and elements within the Irish corporate sector is also illuminated. Practical implications ‐ The paper reflects on these perspectives and considers their implications for the development of accountable CSD mechanisms in Ireland. Originality/value ‐ Adds to the literature on CSD.

Keywords: Information disclosure; Ireland; Private sector organizations; Stakeholder analysis

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/09513570510584647

Publication date: February 1, 2005

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