Communicating corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the coffee industry: An examination of indicators disclosed

Bradley, Oliver and Botchway, Gloria (2018) Communicating corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the coffee industry: An examination of indicators disclosed. Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, 9 (2). pp. 139-164. ISSN 2040-8021

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Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to identify the sustainability indicators disclosed by ten British Coffee Association corporate members in their sustainability reporting and examine whether the indicators correspond to the sustainability challenges faced by the coffee industry, as identified in the literature.

Design/methodology/approach - A normative account of sustainability challenges was developed based on a review of extant literature. A content analysis of the sustainability reports and/or Webpages of the companies was conducted to identify quantitative and qualitative sustainability indicators. Frequency and thematic analysis enabled the subsequent examination.

Findings - A total of 94 sustainability indicators (44 environmental, 30 social and 20 economic) were identified in company reporting. The indicators correspond to the sustainability challenges identified in the literature. In addition to broad challenges, indicators are used to communicate specific issues. A significant number (47) of single-use indicators were identified, communicating less frequently reported challenges. Some companies account for sustainability from bean to cup, attributed to crucial differences in organisational characteristics (degree of vertical integration). Furthermore, the findings highlight the discretionary nature of sustainability reporting, finding considerable variance in indicators disclosed.

Research limitations/implications - As this paper relies on self-reported corporate disclosures, it critically examines the reporting practices of organisations, as opposed to verifying the activities associated with their claims. The authors minimised subjectivity by reducing the interpretation of what constituted “an indicator” using a clearly agreed definition and multiple rounds of coding.

Practical implications - This paper examines the reporting practices of organisations, providing a useful insight and a competitor benchmark. By comprehensively examining the sustainability challenges faced by the coffee industry, it offers “sustainability context” that can be used by organisations to improve their accounting and reporting practices.

Social implications - This paper acknowledges and addresses social initiatives that call for the systematic development of practical and appropriate sustainability indicators that can become embedded in policy and decision-making, affecting the measurement of progress and responses to important sustainability challenges.

Originality/value - This paper presents the first systematic review of sustainability indicator disclosure in an industry that faces significant sustainability challenges.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sustainability indicators, Corporate social responsibility, Sustainability reporting, Social and environmental accounting, Coffee industry
Subjects: N100 Business studies
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Newcastle Business School > Accounting and Finance
Depositing User: Becky Skoyles
Date Deposited: 16 May 2018 11:46
Last Modified: 05 Nov 2018 14:53

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