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Corporate Social Responsibility Reporting: Towards a framework for Pakistan

Corporations disseminate Corporate Social Responsibility Reporting (CSRR) to discharge accountability and transparency to their stakeholders and achieve corporate legitimacy in society. Originating from the developed countries, CSRR practices have been mainly dominated by the ideas and practices from the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and Australia, etc., which have influenced CSRR practices in developing countries. Several scholars argue that CSRR is a context-specific concept, and therefore it should incorporate the contextual factors including the socio-economic, political, religious, and cultural factors of the country, and should be based on the perspectives of local stakeholders. The call to incorporate contextual factors provides the impetus for this study to develop a context-specific CSRR framework and to evaluate current CSRR practices of public listed companies in Pakistan. The three interrelated objectives of the study are, (a) to construct a stakeholder-based CSRR index for Pakistani corporations, (b) to evaluate the extent and quality of CSRR practices of Pakistani listed companies, and (c) to examine the factors influencing CSRR practices in Pakistan. To achieve the objectives of the study, a sequential mixed-methods approach was employed and the investigation was completed in three stages. In the first stage, a CSRR index consisting of 70 items was developed in consultation with 50 Pakistani stakeholders from eight groups representing corporate managers, customers, religious clerics, investors, auditors and accountants, corporate employees, government regulators, and academicians. In the second stage, the stakeholders-based CSRR index was applied to the annual reports of 25 listed Pakistani corporations to evaluate the extent and quality of CSRR practices in Pakistan. Finally, statistical techniques, including the correlation and multiple regression analysis, were employed to determine the impact of twelve company-specific factors on the CSRR practices of the Pakistani corporations examined. To provide insights on the findings, the study adopts an integrated theoretical framework including stakeholder theory, legitimacy theory, institutional theory, signaling theory, and agency theory. The interpretation with reference to the theoretical framework provides insights into the CSRR practices of Pakistani corporations. In addition, the study also examines the theories in light of the empirical findings. The findings of the study suggest a considerably low extent and quality of CSRR practices in Pakistan. It points to a significant information gap between the expectations of Pakistani stakeholders and the actual CSRR disclosed by the Pakistani corporations. It is argued that low stakeholders’ activism, the weak influence of normative and coercive forces, and the absence of context-specific CSRR framework and guidelines lead to the low extent and quality of CSRR observed in this study. The regression analysis reveals that firm size, industry, the board size, family ownership, and government ownership significantly influence the CSRR practices in Pakistan. However, this association was not evident with respect to profitability, financial leverage, audit type, firm age, independent and women directors, and foreign ownership. The empirical findings, which are interpreted through the theoretical lenses adopted in this study, indicate that CSRR in Pakistan is used for reputational and impression management, window-dressing, and greenwashing purposes rather than to discharge accountability and transparency to the extended stakeholder groups. The study makes several contributions to the field of CSRR from multiple perspectives. First, the study contributes in the form of a CSRR framework that would guide the CSRR practices and enable the regulatory authorities to make policies and statutory recommendations for the enforcement of CSRR in Pakistan. Second, it contributes to the extant literature by suggesting a systematic method and approach to construct a CSRR index and evaluate CSRR practices in line with the stakeholders’ perspectives and contextual factors. Third, this study highlights the implications of CSRR practices in an Islamic context and therefore contributes to the Islamic scholarship on CSRR. Finally, the study provides new empirical insights on CSRR theories in light of the specific context of a predominantly Islamic country.
Type of thesis
The University of Waikato
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