Journal für Betriebswirtschaft

, Volume 62, Issue 1, pp 45–84 | Cite as

The development and state of research on social and environmental reporting in global comparison

  • Matthias FifkaEmail author


Since companies provided the first publications on their social and environmental activities in the early 1970s, social and environmental reporting (SER) has been subject to academic analysis. Throughout the course of time, a substantial body of normative, theoretical, prescriptive, and empirical literature has been produced. Against this background, it is the aim of this paper to analyze the development of SER over four decades and its current state. The paper seeks to detect whether the methodological approaches to empirical research on SER have undergone changes over time and whether the approaches differ with regard to their geographic focus. The research is based on an analysis of 198 empirical studies. First, these studies are classified according to their date of publication and the country/countries they are concerned with. Second, the method of data collection, the media analyzed, and the samples considered are examined. The results show that there have been changes in empirical SER research over time and that regional variations are observable. Moreover, the results demonstrate that despite the considerable body of existing literature significant research gaps remain. Based upon their identification, research recommendations are developed. Lastly, the necessity of SER research is being discussed.


Social and environmental reporting Accounting Disclosure Corporate responsibility Sustainability Literature review 

JEL Classification

N50 O50 Q01 Q51 Q56 Q58 


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Copyright information

© Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien, Austria 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dr. Juergen Meyer Endowed Chair for International Business Ethics and SustainabilityCologne Business School (CBS)CologneGermany

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