Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 150, Issue 4, pp 1089–1104 | Cite as

Environmental Legitimacy, Green Innovation, and Corporate Carbon Disclosure: Evidence from CDP China 100

  • Dayuan LiEmail author
  • Min Huang
  • Shenggang Ren
  • Xiaohong Chen
  • Lutao Ning


Firms worldwide are increasingly required to disclose (and make efforts to reduce) their carbon emissions due to the environmental damage associated with climate change. Because there has been no previous literature focusing on the determinants of corporate carbon disclosure integrating environmental legitimacy and green innovation, the present study attempted to develop an original framework to fill the research gap. This study explored the influence of environmental legitimacy (an external informal mechanism) on corporate carbon disclosure, and investigated the role of green innovation (an internal formal mechanism) as a mediator. With the samples of Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) in China from 2008 to 2012, the results demonstrate that environmental legitimacy significantly negatively influences the likelihood of corporate carbon disclosure, and that green process innovation mediates the relationship, while green product innovation has no significant mediating effect. It means that environmental legitimacy not only directly affects the likelihood of corporate carbon disclosure, but also indirectly affects it via green process innovation. Hence, companies must increase both informal and formal mechanisms, i.e., external environmental legitimacy and internal green process innovation, to engage in carbon information disclosure and ensure sustainability.


Environmental legitimacy Corporate carbon disclosure Green product innovation Green process innovation Carbon Disclosure Project China Emerging economies 



This work is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 71202055; 71372064; 71431006), Major project of National Social Sciences Fund of China (Grant No. 15ZDA020), Innovative Research Group National Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 71221061), and Key Projects of Philosophy and Social Sciences Research of Ministry of Education of China (Grant No. 13jzd0016). The authors thank the Editors and referees for their helpful comments and suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dayuan Li
    • 1
    Email author
  • Min Huang
    • 1
  • Shenggang Ren
    • 1
  • Xiaohong Chen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Lutao Ning
    • 3
  1. 1.Collaborative Innovation Center of Resource-conserving & Environment-friendly Society and Ecological Civilization, School of BusinessCentral South UniversityChangshaChina
  2. 2.Hunan University of CommerceChangshaChina
  3. 3.School of Business and ManagementQueen Mary University of LondonLondonUK

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