Social and environmental reporting and the corporate ego

Crawford Spence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Citations (Scopus)


This paper reports on the results of a qualitative exploration into the target audiences for social and environmental reporting (SER). In spite of the wealth of literature on SER motivations, relatively few studies have sought to ascertain who the key target or actual audiences are for SER. The results of this study, based on interviews with UK SER managers, suggest that investors and employees are overwhelmingly the most important audiences targeted by SER managers. The paper draws on auto-communication theory to question the extent to which SER serves as a means of engaging in dialogue with stakeholders. It is argued that, beyond sending risk management signals to the fi nancial markets, SER primarily serves as a vehicle whereby organizations can communicate with themselves. Moreover, broader stakeholders might be targeted with SER only insofar as doing so serves as a perceived endorsement of organizational communications, thereby embellishing the corporate ego's fantasy of how it would like to be perceived.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)254-265
Number of pages12
JournalBusiness Strategy and the Environment
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Corporate ego
  • Image construction
  • Public relations
  • Social and environmental reporting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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