Through the lens of legitimacy theory and starting from Habermas’s communication theory the paper aims to extend and contribute to the research fields related to the quality of social and environmental disclosure and corporate legitimacy by focusing on firms’ environmental reporting credibility. The study proposes an operationalization of the corporate environmental reporting credibility concept identifying possible determinants, related measurements and indicators. Through a content analysis we have measured the credibility of non-financial reports of 152 business entities that, in accordance with the Italian law, published for the first time in 2018, at a mandatory level, social and environmental reports. The results show a good level of credibility in Italian reporting context and in particular a high level of understandability, but a low level of exhaustivity. Findings highlight also the important role of experience in voluntary non-financial reporting, the use of stand-alone document and the belonging to an ESI in influencing the credibility of the communication. The results offer implications and scientific contributions related to the proposal of a detailed model for the measurement of social and environmental reporting applicable to any type of document, in any geographical contest, and any time frame.
- Corporate social responsibility
- Environmental disclosure
- Mandatory disclosure
- Non-financial reporting