The purpose of this paper is to explore corporate social and environmental reporting (CSER) practices and motivations in Bangladesh.
Using a mixed-methods approach, the paper attempts to understand what corporate social and environmental issues Bangladeshi firms are reporting and why. The paper first explores the motivations for CSER in line with O’Dwyer’s (2003) proposed classifications of proactive and reactive motivations through interviews and frames its findings using stakeholder theory. To provide a more holistic view, content analysis adapted from CSR Asia (2008) categorization (broadly guided by GRI) was conducted to enhance findings from engagement-based interviews with managers.
The paper finds that “community investment and development” and “governance codes and policies” received the highest amount of disclosure, while the least amount of disclosure was found in the “workplace/human rights” category. Although a philanthropic tone was found behind “community investment”, such as poverty alleviation activities, disclosure in this area is mostly motivated by proactive rationales with enlightened self-interest and image-building activities. In terms of reactive motivations underpinning CSER, the paper finds that companies also report reactively to reduce pressure from powerful stakeholders such as international buyers and government agencies. Contrary to other studies regarding reactive motivations, the authors argue that a director’s proactive motivation is the prime determinant of CSER in a developing country. They also argue that low-level disclosures on workplace environment/human rights need to be given more importance by policymakers, management and other relevant stakeholders.
To the best of the authors’ knowledge, the study is one of the few engagement-based field studies that uses a mixed-methods approach to seek managerial perspectives in an attempt to understand CSER practices in an emerging country context.