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Motivations for Corporate Social Reporting and Non-Reporting in Malaysia: An Exploratory Study From a Public Relations Perspective

Corporate social reporting, embracing the triple bottom line reporting concept, entails the reporting of economic, social and environmental performance as opposed to the more narrow focus on conventional financial reporting. Many corporations are now engaging in environmental and social reporting in an effort to communicate the social and environmental effects of organisations‟ operations to particular interest groups within society. The main objective of this thesis is to examine corporate motivations and hesitations to undertake social reporting in Malaysia. Most studies have so far applied quantitative method on themes identification to determine rationales for corporate social reporting. Little attention has been given to in-depth primary and secondary data to understand rationales for corporate social reporting in a national context. In addition to motivation, this study fills the gap in the literature by investigating corporate reluctance for social reporting. A qualitative approach was adopted for this study. A mixed method of data collection, consisting of both semi-structured interviews and corporate social reports, was used. A total of 20 interviews were conducted with representatives of six reporting and six non-reporting corporations, and eight non-corporate respondents representing the Malaysian political and social sectors. In addition to primary data, corporate social information in annual reports and corporate websites of six reporting corporations was also collected to support the interviews. Thematic analysis was applied to identify salient themes to explain both corporate motivation and hesitation for social reporting. The analysis was divided into two levels: corporation and society. At the corporate level, results identify public relations as the central motivation for social reporting. More specifically, the concepts of image and identity, issues management, two-way symmetrical and asymmetrical communication, autocommunication, and publicity are used to explain the adoption of social reporting. Image and identity and issues management were also among the concepts applied to explain corporate hesitation for social reporting. However, the results also support stockholder theory and reveal the lack of public relations understanding to be the cause of the low acceptance of social reporting. In-depth analysis revealed organisational legitimacy as the main reason to explain both motivation and hesitation for social reporting. Corporations require stakeholder support for their continual existence. At the societal level analysis, the concept of political economy was applied to explain the limited social reporting practice in the Malaysian context. Finally, the implications for both practising as well as neglecting social reporting are discussed using the concept of the risk society.
Type of thesis
Tee, K. K. (2009). Motivations for Corporate Social Reporting and Non-Reporting in Malaysia: An Exploratory Study From a Public Relations Perspective (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/2573
The University of Waikato
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