Social and environmental reporting practices of organisations operating in, or sourcing products from, a developing country : evidence from Bangladesh

Islam, M 2009, Social and environmental reporting practices of organisations operating in, or sourcing products from, a developing country : evidence from Bangladesh, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Accounting and Law, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Social and environmental reporting practices of organisations operating in, or sourcing products from, a developing country : evidence from Bangladesh
Author(s) Islam, M
Year 2009
Abstract This research consists of a broad study in three parts of the social and environmental reporting practices of organisations operating in or sourcing products from a developing country, in this case Bangladesh. The first part of this study explores the social and environmental disclosure practices of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), the body responsible for organising the activities of 4,200 entities involved in the export of garments from Bangladesh. By way of interview, this part documents the opinions of numerous senior executives from the BGMEA with regard to any changes in the degree of social and environmental pressures since 1985. Utilising a complementary theoretical perspective that includes legitimacy theory, stakeholder theory and institutional theory this part then performs an analysis of the BGMEA's annual reports (1987-2005), t o explore the link between the perceived pressures and changes entailed therein and the social and environmental disclosure practices of the BGMEA across the period of analysis. The results show that the disclosure practices of BGMEA appear to be directly driven by the changing expectations of multinational buying companies- the group deemed to be the most powerful stakeholder group. This section is the first known study to interview managers from a large organisation in a developing country about shifting stakeholder expectations and then to link these changing expectations to annual report disclosures across an extended period of analysis.

The findings then directly lead to the second major part of this thesis which investigates the social and environmental disclosure practices of two major multinational buying companies: Nike and H&M. Adopting a joint consideration of legitimacy theory and media agenda setting theory, this second part investigates the linkage between negative media attention and positive corporate social and environmental disclosures over a 19 year period. The results support the view that for those industry-related social and environmental issues that attract the greatest amount of negative media attention, these companies react by providing positive social and environmental disclosures. The results were particularly significant in relation to labour practices in developing countries-the issue that attracts the greatest amount of negative media attention for the companies in question.

While the second part demonstrates that the media influences particular disclosure practices, the third part of the thesis shows what drives the media. Based on the speculation provided in the second part, the third part tests the proposition that the media is an important ally of NGOs in their quest to influence change in corporate accountabilities. Through the use of interviews, the results of this part of the study provide evidence to support previously untested perspectives about NGOs' utilisation of the m edia. The results reveal that NGOs use the media because the media is responsible for creating real changes in the operations and disclosure policies of organisations sourcing products from Bangladesh.

The various pressures impacting the activities of organisations operating in or sourcing products from developing countries constitutes a fascinating area of investigation, and it is hoped that this study will motivate further research in this area.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Accounting and Law
Keyword(s) Bangladesh -- Economic conditions
Environmental accounting
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