An investigation into a conceptual framework for corporate environmental reporting
The objective of this thesis is to develop a way forward for voluntary corporate environmental reporting in Britain, given the absence of any new legislation requiring mandatory corporate environmental disclosure, with the principal aims of beginning the process of making the implicit reporting framework explicit, investigating user needs, and identifying the level of consensus between three groups. These are a normative, interested party and company group. The thesis develops a theoretical conceptual framework model, with a disclosure and reporting component, and investigates the model empirically in relation to the level of consensus between the normative, interested party, and company respondent groups, using a mail questionnaire. The approach adopted uses the financial reporting conceptual framework, which represents the status quo, as a basis for developing a conceptual framework for corporate environmental reporting. The empirical evidence suggests there is comparability between financial and environmental reporting, on a fundamental basis. Further, the findings reveal that there are disclosure, reporting and attitude gaps between the requirements of the normative and interested party groups, and the practices (and attitudes) of the company group, within the current voluntary corporate environmental reporting framework. Indeed, the normative and interested party groups appear to require more "ambitious" and "mature" corporate environmental disclosure, rather than the unambitious and perhaps "immature" information currently provided by companies. Two policy recommendations, aimed at reducing the gaps between what is required and what is produced, arise from the thesis. First, a dissemination with education strategy, and second, a regulation with education strategy. However, the empirical evidence suggests that the latter is the preferred and more appropriate route.