AbstractsBusiness Management & Administration

Corporate responsibility reporting of the largest forest industry companies in North America

by Ning Li

Institution: University of Helsinki
Year: 2009
Keywords: Corporate Responsibility (CR); CR reporting; North American forest products industry; Content analysis
Record ID: 1140932
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1975/8493


This exploratory study aims to analyze the CR reporting by eleven largest forest products companies in North America. Both annual reports and sustainability reports produced in year 2006 by eleven largest forest products companies in North America were chosen for this very study. To ensure the comparability of the results, the study adopts the similar variables in operationalizations by Routto (2008), who studied the CR reporting of European forest products companies. The methodology applied in the study is content analysis. Mean, T-test and One-way Anova analysis were used in data analysis. Though all the three pillars of CR (economic, environmental, and social) were covered in their CR reporting, the North American companies seem to give more weight to Social Focus, followed by Economic Focus and Environmental Focus respectively, whereas the largest European companies considered Environmental Focus as the most important area, Social Focus the second, whereas Economic Focus was least emphasized. A number of notable differences and similarities between the European companies and the North American companies towards CR reporting were also identified. For example, the North American companies obviously seek for more efforts to co-operate with interest groups and business partners to ensure responsible actions than the European companies. The European companies emphasize energy consumption more frequently than the North American companies. Neither the European companies nor the North American companies perceived environmental welfare at the expense of corporate profits an important element concerning Economic Focus. It would be interesting to note that neither the European companies nor the North American companies considered shareholders, NGOs and forest owners as primary target audience groups in their CR reporting, since the communication benefits were not frequently mentioned for these stakeholder groups. The study also observes some variation of CR practices within a common industrial and cultural environment. The results suggest that the US companies seem to particularly emphasize a number of issues more than the Canadian companies, namely: 1) Business behavior, 2) Social principles & guidelines, 3) Internal communication, 4) Social focus, 5) External communication, and 6) Audience. No significant difference was found concerning Social & ethical accounting and Economic focus between the US companies and the Canadian companies. Sector of Integrated forest products placed notably much more weight on Social & ethical accounting than Sectors of Consumer products and Sector of Pulp & paper & packaging in this study, whereas no other significant difference was indicated by the pair-wise comparison of means between Sector and the nine summative variables respectively. In addition, sustainability reports seem to have much clear focus on environmental-related issues than annual reports, whereas issues concerning Social Focus and External Communication received more attention in annual reports than in sustainability…