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Are CSR leaders less prone to engage in impression management?
Isabel Lourenço (Lourenço, I.); Jonas Oliveira (Oliveira, J.); Manuel Castelo Branco (Branco, M.); Ana Sofia Inácio (Sofia, A.);
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BRU-IUL Research Seminars
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This study examines the readability of corporate communication in the CEO letters included in the corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports presented by the US firms included in the S&P 600 North America Index. These documents were content analyzed through the use of an automated algorithm provided by Readable.IO. Using a frame of analysis that combines agency theory, legitimacy theory and social psychology theory of impression management, we studied separate and jointly effects of sustainability and financial performance on managers’ decision in choosing a specific level of readability of CEO letters included in CSR reports. The main findings suggest that leading CSR firms (those listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index) present more readable CSR information, and that firms with poor sustainability performance and poor financial performance present less readable CSR information. Findings confirm the relevance of both sociological and economic incentives to manipulate the readability of CSR information. However, they suggest that the economic incentives are relevant mainly in the case of leading CSR firms. The manipulation of the readability of CSR information in the case of firms with poorer CSR performance is mainly driven by sociological incentives, consistent with “greenwashing” behaviors.
Corporate social responsibility,Sustainability,Readability,Impression Management.