Managerial perceptions of corporate social disclosure: An Irish story

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This paper interprets managerial perceptions of corporate social disclosure (CSD) presence and absence through the lens of organisational legitimacy theory. Evidence from in-depth semi-structured interviews with 29 senior managers in 27 Irish public limited companies is presented. It is one of the few studies to use interview-based evidence in attempts to understand the motivations for CSD and responds to calls for more empirical work of this nature in the CSD literature. The paper extends and interrogates the use of legitimacy theory to infer motivations for CSD by presenting a narrative which contemplates conceptions of legitimacy as both a process and a state while endeavouring to understand the motives for CSD. In this manner, the paper furnishes a more complex, complete, and critical story of the motives for CSD. The perspectives suggest that while CSD may occasionally form part of a legitimacy process, ultimately this is misguided as it is widely perceived as being incapable of supporting the achievement of a legitimacy state. Consequently, for many managers, the continued practice of CSD is deemed somewhat perplexing. The paper reflects on the implications of these findings for future CSD research and practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)406-436
Number of pages31
JournalAccounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2002


  • Corporate policy
  • Disclosure
  • Ireland
  • Social accounting


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