An empirical exploration of the link between reporting to stakeholders and corporate social responsibility reputation in the Spanish context
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Based on the principles of stakeholder theory, this paper explores the relationship between (1) the information reported to stakeholders in corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports and (2) companies’ CSR reputation (CSRR). Design/methodology/approach. The paper implements two regression models to test how reporting to stakeholders influences the CSRR of 84 companies included in the Spanish “MercoEmpresas Responsables” reputation index. Findings.The results demonstrate that greater global reporting intensity to stakeholders does not necessarily mean a better CSRR. Contrarily, the reporting–reputation link depends on the intensity of reporting to specific stakeholders, such as investors, regulators and the media. The findings are explained largely by the institutional, political and business characteristics of Spain after the Great Recession of 2007-2008. Research limitations/implications. The evidence reported in this paper confirms stakeholder theory as an adequate framework to understand corporate reporting to stakeholders and its relationship with CSRR. The findings suggest that stakeholder salience (i.e., power, legitimacy and urgency) is a key concept for understanding the reporting–reputation link better in future research. Practical implications. In the light of the findings, companies willing to use reporting to stakeholders as a tool to improve CSRR should (1) establish regular mechanisms for monitoring stakeholder power, legitimacy and urgency, (2) provide complete information to investors in their CSR reports and (3) minimize the amount of detail provided to regulators and the media in their CSR reports. Originality/value. There is still little empirical evidence concerning how the information to stakeholders contained in CSR reports influences the processes by which CSRR is built or destroyed. This paper contributes to the previous literature by describing how the global intensity of reporting to stakeholders and the intensity of reporting to different stakeholder groups relate to CSRR.
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