Standalone Corporate Social Responsibility Reporting in China: An Exploratory Analysis of its Relation to Legitimation

Dennis Patten, Yi Ren, Nana Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While the practice of standalone corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting in China grew substantially over the mid-2000s, assessment of the disclosure included in the reports is quite limited. In an attempt to fill that void, we explore in this study whether differences in information provision through the standalone reports appear to be related to legitimacy factors. Based on a sample of 60 large companies with standalone reports issued for 2011–2012, we find that differences in the extent of social and environmental disclosure are positively related to firm size and membership in socially exposed industries, but negatively associated with status as a state-owned enterprise. In addition, we document that these relations appear to relate more strongly to disclosure of data and impact information as opposed to information on programmes and initiatives. Overall, our results suggest that CSR reporting in China, as in more developed Western economies, appears to be more about legitimation than meaningful disclosure of social and environmental performance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-31
Number of pages15
JournalSocial and Environmental Accountability Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Feb 2015

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