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Corporate social responsibility disclosure in corporate communication: A content analysis of the automotive industry’s sustainability reports
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
2012 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Problems related to sustainable development such as environmental issues, human rights, orlabor conditions, are nowadays deeply integrated in our society. It became primordial forcompanies to take into consideration these problems in their business development. For morethan a decade now, car companies started to publish official documents summarizing theircommitments in favor of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) actions. Through thesesustainability reports, car producers disclose information concerning their sustainable policyand bring details to stakeholders on performed sustainable actions.

Because publication of sustainability reports is a relatively new phenomenon, a lot of studies still have to be made in this sector. In this way, no main studies were made regarding howCSR actions performed and disclosed by car companies evolved in the past decade. Didcompanies keep focusing on the same type of sustainable actions or did some changes occuron the way they conduct their CSR policies? No trends were available to try to understandhow car companies CSR actions evolved. This thesis is an attempt to fulfill this gap and bringa first set of useful findings on this topic.

Based on three different car producers which are BMW Group, Ford Motor Company andMitsubishi Motors Corporation, our study analyses these companies 2002, 2006 and 2010sustainability reports and looks at how CSR actions are disclosed. The purpose is firstly todescribe how companies’ CSR commitment disclosure is evolving between 2002 and 2010and secondly to find explanation to the key trends. In order to achieve this, we used six mainCSR categories (Economic, Environment, Human Rights, Labor Practices and Decent Work,Product Responsibility and Society) and classified disclosed information in relation with thesecategories to create trends. For each of these six categories, sub-categories were used in orderto be more precise in the analysis process of the documents.

Results showed an important interest of car producers for the environment category whichrepresents, on average, more than 40% of disclosed information in sustainability reports.Society category trend shows an important increase between 2006 and 2010 which led it tobecome the second most represented category in reports. Other categories trends present amore stable evolution with time. As it is explained more in detail in our analysis part, thisattraction toward environmental issues for car producers can be explained by the badreputation given to car producers in terms of emissions, energy consumption and moreglobally environmental protection. Cultural background and business mindset are alsoinfluencing companies’ choices. Responsive behaviors resulting from stakeholder’s pressureas well as adaptation to a weak regulatory framework are additional elements to explain the key disclosure trends.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. , 62 p.
Keyword [en]
Corporate Sustainable Responsibility, car industry, trend analysis, content analysis, CSR disclosure, sustainability reports
National Category
Business Administration
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-57063OAI: diva2:539266
Educational program
Master's Programme in Management
2012-06-08, 10:00 (English)
Social and Behavioural Science, Law
Available from: 2012-07-05 Created: 2012-07-03 Last updated: 2012-07-05Bibliographically approved

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