نفوذ ذینفعان در گزارش شرکت: اکتشاف تعامل بین صندوق جهانی حیات وحش-استرالیا و صنعت مواد معدنی استرالیا
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|20069||2006||30 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||19383 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Accounting, Organizations and Society, Volume 31, Issues 4–5, July–August 2006, Pages 343–372
This paper explores the influence an initiative of WWF-Australia had on the environmental reporting practices of the Australian minerals industry. In 1999, WWF-Australia produced a report that evaluated the environmental reports of companies that were signatories to the Australian Minerals Industry Code for Environmental Management. The evidence provided in this paper suggests that the WWF’s initiative influenced revisions to the industry code, as well as the reporting behaviour of individual mining companies. The study contributes to the limited amount of research that has been conducted with regard to the influence that lobby groups have on corporate disclosure policies.
Research investigating whether lobby groups are a source of pressure upon the practices and policies of profit seeking organisations is limited (for example, Tilt, 1994 and Tilt, 1997). Despite this, there appears to exist a general presumption in the social and environmental accounting literature that lobby groups are a major source of pressure, particularly upon the social and environmental operating practices and related disclosure policies of companies (for example, Deegan and Gordon, 1996, Heard and Bolce, 1981, Parker, 1986 and Patten, 1992). What is lacking in the literature are studies that directly seek the views of corporate management about how, and indeed whether, managers react to particular lobby group activities and concerns. The aim of the current study is to contribute to the research literature and to determine whether presumptions made to the effect that lobby groups are a major source of influence upon corporations can be substantiated. We specifically investigate whether the concerns of WWF-Australia (WWF was formerly known as the World Wide Fund for Nature) are reflected in the disclosure policies being implemented by the sample companies and their related industry body. If the results indicate that such claims cannot be supported then the view that particular constituencies’ expectations, as represented by the officers of large lobby groups to which they belong, influence corporate behaviour (for example, corporate reporting practices) must be challenged.1 The study seeks to achieve the above aims by examining a case study involving the WWF environmental conservation organisation, and its recent interactions with the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA), and with individual companies operating within the Australian minerals industry. Specifically, we study how representatives of the MCA and mining companies reacted to a WWF-Australia initiative which involved WWF developing an instrument which enabled it to “score” the environmental reports being released by mining companies that were signatories to the Australian Minerals Industry Code for Environmental Management—a code that was developed by the industry. It perhaps should be acknowledged that the minerals industry in Australia is of great importance to the Australian economy with 12 of the top 50 companies listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (by market capitalisation) being from the mining industry (April 2005). The nature and magnitude of the industry’s activities means that it has a multitude of significant social and environmental implications for the societies in which it operates, with many of these implications being capable of being disclosed. It is of interest to determine how or if potential corporate disclosures might be influenced by an initiative of a particular interest group, such as WWF. Models of corporation and NGO interaction There are many non-government organisations (NGOs) operating throughout the world supporting and opposing a variety of causes. Some are small in membership and very local in orientation whereas others, such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and WWF are global in nature. Many of these organisations are particularly concerned with the damage governments and business entities are causing to particular environments and societies and they use various strategies in an attempt to alleviate some of the harm that they perceive is occurring. Some of these strategies might involve direct and sometimes violent confrontation, whereas other strategies might involve direct collaboration with business. It has been argued that in general there has been a shift across time in how NGOs tend to interact with business. Stafford and Hartman (1996) provide a classification system based on perceived “waves” of activity. The history of relations between NGOs and business organisations is organised into three general waves. The “first wave” occurred under US President Roosevelt. Under his administration there was recognition of the need to protect wilderness and to establish national parks. At this time, NGOs were typically small and relatively non-militant. The “second wave” followed and was fuelled by the expansion and speed of economic growth and the resultant damage this was causing. During this period (from approximately the 1960s) there was growth in environmental laws and there was also a growth in citizen activism. NGOs began getting larger and better organised and one of their key strategies was direct confrontation with business. However, following this period, a “third wave” is considered to have commenced and this was described as an era in which many groups used their expertise to develop market-based programs that were deemed to be of benefit to both the environment and business (the so-called “win–win” situation). According to Stafford and Hartman (1996, p. 51), “this mind-set has diminished conflict between business and environmentalists, and the two are now turning to one another for cooperation”. There was an apparent move away from the “anti-industry, anti-profit, and anti-growth orientation of much early environmentalism” (Elkington, 1994, p. 91). This strategic change was also explicitly noted by some NGOs. For example, the major Australian NGO, the Australian Conservation Foundation, made public the decision to alter strategies and to seek “new allies, including multi-national corporations, which were once demonised by the green movement” (Eccleston, 1997, p. 1). Whilst there has perhaps been a general movement from confrontation to collaboration as Stafford and Hartman (1996) and Elkington (1994) suggest, it is arguable that not all NGOs have made the same “transition” (or indeed want to) and the classification scheme provided above will have varying degrees of applicability to specific NGOs. For example, groups such as WWF are known to frequently collaborate on various projects with business and hence have moved on to the “third wave”. 2 For example the Forest Stewardship Council which involved the collaboration of the timber industry and WWF. This international certification scheme provides a rating, which appears on “approved” timber to indicate it was being sourced from what was perceived to be a sustainable source. This scheme was believed to provide both economic benefits to the timber industry, as well as environmental benefits. Other initiatives such as the Endangered Seas Campaign and the Marine Stewardship Council, which involved a collaboration between WWF and the large multi-national company Unilever, are reflective of WWF’s approach to conserving the environment. In relationship to the establishment of the Marine Stewardship Council, and reflective of WWF’s propensity to work with industry and to utilise market forces to achieve its environmental goals, the following comments were made in the Unilever 1998 Environment Report: Worldwide demand for fish is rising, but the long-term supply is threatened by decades of over-fishing and indiscriminate fishing practices … In February 1996 Unilever formed a conservation partnership with the WWF. The aim was to create market incentives for sustainable fishing by establishing a certification scheme to use market forces and the power of consumer choice to encourage sustainable fishing … For WWF—one of the world’s largest conservation organisations—this is an important step in conserving fish stocks and safeguarding the marine ecosystem. For Unilever sustainable fishing is essential to ensure long-term supply to sustain the business. The partnership is based on a common purpose: the long-term sustainability of global fish stocks and the integrity of the marine ecosystem. Also, within Australia in the late 1990s the large multi-national mining company Rio Tinto funded an extensive review by WWF of frog conservation in Australia (and Rio Tinto’s annual reports within Australia featured a WWF-related frog logo to identify their association with WWF). This collaborative work continued to the completion of the project in 2003. The above discussion of WWF’s collaborative strategies is consistent with the opinion provided by Luke (1997). After extensive research of WWF’s history, Luke (p. 32) argues that WWF is avowedly “third wave” and “purposely constructs collaborative links with capital and the state rather than fomenting confrontation with them”. This view of WWF, relative to other NGOs, was also reflected by senior representatives of the Mineral Council of Australia who were interviewed as part of this case study.3