An analysis of corporate social responsibility within the Big Four accountancy firms in the U.K. has there been continuous improvement?

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Abstract

This paper explores the current corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies and disclosures by each of the four 'Big Four' accountancy firms in the UK. It investigates four main themes (Diversity and equal opportunity, Social impact, Education, Environmental and wellbeing). The study introduces the two new perspectives of Legitimacy Theory (symbolic vs. substantive). Content analysis was used to categorise and analyse trends in the firms' CSR programmes implemented and disclosed from 2014-2016. Information from the firms' CSR activities was obtained through annual reports, transparency/ impact reports, sustainability reports, and web pages collectively. The results show an improvement in disclosure for one particular area, where influencers were identified as needing legitimacy, with external events considered as a potential factor. Recommendations are made, including potential solutions to the current issues associated with CSR reporting by the four firms. Our results support the substantive form of legitimacy theory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-338
Number of pages31
JournalInternational Journal of Accounting, Auditing and Performance Evaluation
Volume16
Issue number4
Early online date17 Jun 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • accounting industry
  • Big Four
  • corporate social responsibility
  • CSR
  • CSR disclosure
  • disclosure policies
  • legitimacy theory

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