Corporate Sustainability Reporting: A Study in Disingenuity?

  • Güler Aras
  • David CrowtherEmail author


Over recent years, there has been a focus in corporate activity upon the concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and one of its central platforms, the notion of sustainability, and particularly sustainable development. We argue in this article that the use of such a term has the effect of obfuscating the real situation regarding the effect of corporate activity upon the external environment and the consequent implications for the future. One of the effects of persuading that corporate activity is sustainable is that the cost of capital for the firm is reduced as investors are misled into thinking that the level of risk involved in their investment is lower than it actually is. We analyse the effects of this misrepresentation and argue for a fuller debate about sustainability.


corporate social responsibility (CSR) corporate sustainability cost of capital environmental information risk reduction sustainability sustainable development 


  1. Abreu R., F. David (2004); Corporate Social Responsibility: Exploration Inside Experience and Practice at the European Level In D. Crowther, & L. Rayman-Bacchus (eds.), Perspectives on Corporate Social Responsibility, Aldershot, Ashgate, 109–139Google Scholar
  2. Amba-Rao, S. C. (1993); Multinational Corporate Social Responsibility, Ethics, Interactions and Third World Governments: An Agenda for the 1990s, Journal of Business Ethics, 12, 553–572CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aras, G., and D. Crowther: 2007a, ‹Sustainable Corporate Social Responsibility and the Value Chain’, in D. Crowther and M. M. Zain (eds.), New Perspectives on Corporate Social Responsibility, 109–128Google Scholar
  4. Aras, G. and D. Crowther: 2007b, ‹Is the Global Economy Sustainable?’, in S. Barber (ed.), The Geopolitics of the City (Forum Press, London), pp. 165–194Google Scholar
  5. Aras G., D. Crowther (2007c); What Level of Trust is Needed for Sustainability? Social Responsibility Journal, 3(3), 60–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Aras, G. and D. Crowther: 2008, Corporate Sustainability: A Guide to Best Practice (Gower, Aldershot) (In Press)Google Scholar
  7. Azzone G., R. Manzini, G. Noel (1996); Evolutionary Trends in Environmental Reporting. Business Strategy and Environment, 5(4), 219–230CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Barthes, R.: 1973, Mythologies. Trans: A. Lavers. (HarperCollins, London)Google Scholar
  9. Beder, S. (1997); Global Spin: The Corporate Assault on Environmentalism. London: Green BooksGoogle Scholar
  10. Carroll, A. B. (1999); Corporate Social Responsibility. Business and Society, 38(3), 268–295CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Crowther, D. (2000a); Social and Environmental Accounting. London: Financial Times Prentice HallGoogle Scholar
  12. Crowther, D. (2000b); Corporate Reporting, Stakeholders and the Internet: Mapping the New Corporate Landscape. Urban Studies, 37(10), 1837–1848CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Crowther, D. (2002); A Social Critique of Corporate Reporting. Aldershot: AshgateGoogle Scholar
  14. Crowther, D. (2006); Standards of Corporate Social Responsibility: Convergence Within the European Union. In D. Njavro, & K. Krkac (eds), Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility. Zagreb: MATE, 17–34Google Scholar
  15. Crowther, D. and D. J. Duty: 2002, ‹Operational Performance in Post Modern Organisations – Towards a Framework for Including Time in the Evaluation of Performance’, Journal of Applied Finance May, 23–46Google Scholar
  16. Daly, H. E. (1992); Allocation, Distribution, and Scale: Towards an Economics that is Efficient, Just, and Sustainable. Ecological Economics, 6(3), 185–193CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Daly, H. E. (1996); Beyond Growth. Boston, MA: Beacon PressGoogle Scholar
  18. Daly, H. E. (1999); Ecological Economics and the Ecology of Economics. Cheltenham: Edward ElgarGoogle Scholar
  19. Dyllick T, K. Hockerts (2002); Beyond the Business Case for Corporate Sustainability. Business Strategy & the Environment, 11, 130–141CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Elliot, S. R.: 2005, ‹Sustainability: An Economic Perspective’, Resources Conservations and Recycling, 44, 263–277CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gilmore C. G., H. Willmott (1992); Company Law and Financial Reporting: A Sociological History of the UK Experience In M. Bromwich, & A. Hopwood (eds) Accounting and the Law. Hemel Hempstead: Prentice Hall, 159–191Google Scholar
  22. Gray R. H., K. J. Bebbington (2001); Accounting for the Environment. London: SageGoogle Scholar
  23. Hart, S. L. (1997); Beyond Greening: Strategies for a Sustainable World. Harvard Business Review, 75(1), 66–76Google Scholar
  24. Hart S. L., M. B. Milstein (2003); Creating Sustainable Value. Academy of Management Executive, 17(2), 56–67Google Scholar
  25. Hawken, P. (1993); The Ecology of Commerce. London: Weidenfeld & NicholsonGoogle Scholar
  26. Lovelock, J. (1979); Gaia. Oxford: Oxford University PressGoogle Scholar
  27. Marsden, C. (2000); The New Corporate Citizenship of Big Business: Part of the Solution to Sustainability. Business & Society Review, 105(1), 9–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Mayhew, N. (1997); Fading to Grey: The Use and Abuse of Corporate Executives’ “Representational Power”. In R. Welford (eds), Hijacking Environmentalism: Corporate Response to Sustainable Development. London: Earthscan, 63–95Google Scholar
  29. Mintzberg, H. (1983); The Case for Corporate Social Responsibility. Journal of Business Strategy, 4(2), 3–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Ortiz Martinez E., D. Crowther (2005); Corporate Social Responsibility Creates an Environment for Business Success. In D. Crowther, & R. Jatana (eds), Representations of Social Responsibility vol 1. Hyderabad: ICFAI University Press, 125–140Google Scholar
  31. Orwell, G. (1970); Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters vol 4. Harmondsworth: PenguinGoogle Scholar
  32. Pava M. L., J. Krausz (1996); The Association Between Corporate Social Responsibility and Financial Performance: The Paradox of Social Cost. Journal of Business Ethics, 15(3), 321–357CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Reed R., R. J. DeFillippi (1990); Causal Ambiguity, Barriers to Imitation, and Sustainable Competitive Advantage. Academy of Management Review, 15(1), 88–102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Sapir, E.: 1949, ‹The Unconscious Patterning of Behaviour in Society’, in D. G. Mendelbaum (ed.), Selected Writings of Edward Sapir (University of California Press, Berkley, CA)Google Scholar
  35. Schmidheiny, S. (1992); Changing Course. New York: MIT PressGoogle Scholar
  36. Spangenberg, J. H. (2004); Reconciling Sustainability and Growth: Criteria, Indicators, Policy. Sustainable Development, 12, 76–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. WCED (World Commission on Environment and Development): 1987, Our Common Future (The Brundtland Report) (Oxford University Press, Oxford)Google Scholar
  38. Zwetsloot, G. I. J. M. (2003), From Management Systems to Corporate Social Responsibility. Journal of Business Ethics, 44(2/3), 201–207CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Yildiz Technical UniversityIstanbulTurkey
  2. 2.Department of Accounting and FinanceDe Montfort University LeicesterU.K.

Personalised recommendations