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Comparing the Evolution of CSR Reporting to that of Financial Reporting


This paper compares between the evolution of financial reporting and corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting. Our comparison follows a framework of seven factors for exploring comparative accounting history put forth by Carnegie and Napier (Account Audit Account J 15(5):689–718, 2002): Period, Places, People, Practices, Propagation, Products, and Profession. Using this framework allows for a comparison of similarities and differences as to how both types of reporting have evolved. Some of the defining moments in the evolution of financial reporting have yet to take place in the development of CSR reporting; such as an event that legitimizes a CSR reporting standard or gives CSR reporting global recognition. The evolutionary process may not follow the same path as financial reporting did due to the varying stakeholders involved. However, there are enough similarities that still make the evolution of financial reporting a useful comparative tool to analyze the potential growth and development of CSR reporting. Financial reporting has evolved into a comparable and reliable market-based resource over the last 100 years. Relative to this timeline CSR reporting is still in its infancy. CSR reporting has come a long way since early reports were first issued, but there remain many deficiencies in comparability, consistency, reliability, and relevance. The results of this comparison provide some insight on the possible future development of CSR reporting. Our goal is that this paper contributes to an understanding of CSR reporting’s past and provides insights into CSR reporting’s present and future.

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Tschopp, D., Huefner, R.J. Comparing the Evolution of CSR Reporting to that of Financial Reporting. J Bus Ethics 127, 565–577 (2015).

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  • CSR reporting
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Financial accounting
  • Environmental accounting
  • Reporting standards