Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 140, Issue 4, pp 787–805 | Cite as

An Evaluation of the Quality of Corporate Social Responsibility Reports by Some of the World’s Largest Financial Institutions

  • S. Prakash Sethi
  • Terrence F. Martell
  • Mert Demir


This study investigates the variations in the quality and comprehensiveness of 104 corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports published by the world’s largest financial institutions in 2012. Using a novel measure of CSR report quality, we examine the impact of certain national, legal, and firm-level factors that might explain differences in the overall quality and extent of coverage of various issues in these reports. Our findings show that legal factors and CSR environment in a firm’s country of headquarters play an important role in firms’ CSR reporting quality. Common law countries exhibit systematically higher overall CSR reporting quality than code law countries. Countries with higher CSR standards, policies, and regulations in place also produce significantly higher quality CSR reports. Firm size, on the other hand, has no major impact on the overall quality of CSR reports. In further analysis of the individual aspects of CSR disclosures, namely environment, philanthropy, bribery and corruption, and integrity assurance, we document that larger firms report at a higher quality on philanthropy and bribery and corruption. Bribery and corruption is reported at a higher quality in countries with common law tradition, high-quality legal regimes, and high CSR standards and regulations in place. We also observe higher quality integrity assurance in common law countries. CSR-minded countries and countries with low-quality legal environment also report on philanthropy at a higher quality. Finally, we offer guidelines for companies toward improving the quality of their reports, and suggestions for scholars and researchers for further avenues of research.


Corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports Environment social and governance (ESG) CSR monitor Global financial institutions Country-of-origin effect (EOC) GRI ISO 26000 Bribery and corruption Philanthropy 



The funding for this project was provided by the Weissman Center for International Business and is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Prakash Sethi
    • 1
  • Terrence F. Martell
    • 1
  • Mert Demir
    • 1
  1. 1.Weissman Center for International Business, Baruch CollegeThe City University of New YorkNew YorkUSA

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