Purpose This paper aims to investigate whether religiosity and religious diversity affect the adoption of sustainability reporting assurance (SRA) by companies based in predominantly Roman Catholic and Protestant countries. To this aim, a theoretical framework is developed using the social norm, signalling and agency theories. Design/methodology/approach A pooled logit regression model is applied on a sample of 2,541 firm-year observations collected from the most sustainable companies in Europe in the period between 2004 and 2015 to test the effect of religiosity on SRA adoption. Different analyses are used to check for the robustness of the findings and a generalized method of moments (GMM) is used to address potential endogeneity issues. Findings The results of this study show that companies based in highly religious countries are more likely to adopt SRA practices to show compliance with the religious social norms of their stakeholders. The results also show that companies based in predominantly Roman Catholic countries are more likely to adopt SRA practices than those operating in Protestant countries. This may be due to the fact that the structural organization of Catholicism is based on a vertical, top-down control system, which does not foster trust and requires constant assurance. This explains the emphasis placed on SRA by stakeholders adhering to Catholicism. Stakeholders from Protestant countries, on the other hand, tend to rely more on the principles of social ethics and social mutual control that characterize their doctrine and, therefore, do not need any additional, external assurance of corporate commitment to sustainability. Originality/value This paper provides new insights into the influence that religiosity and religious diversity have on SRA. This study also provides evidence on the usefulness of social norm theory for conducting empirical research into corporate practices and could set an example for future studies in this field.

Does religiosity lead to sustainability reporting assurance? Evidence from European companies

Terzani, S;Turzo, T
2022-01-01

Abstract

Purpose This paper aims to investigate whether religiosity and religious diversity affect the adoption of sustainability reporting assurance (SRA) by companies based in predominantly Roman Catholic and Protestant countries. To this aim, a theoretical framework is developed using the social norm, signalling and agency theories. Design/methodology/approach A pooled logit regression model is applied on a sample of 2,541 firm-year observations collected from the most sustainable companies in Europe in the period between 2004 and 2015 to test the effect of religiosity on SRA adoption. Different analyses are used to check for the robustness of the findings and a generalized method of moments (GMM) is used to address potential endogeneity issues. Findings The results of this study show that companies based in highly religious countries are more likely to adopt SRA practices to show compliance with the religious social norms of their stakeholders. The results also show that companies based in predominantly Roman Catholic countries are more likely to adopt SRA practices than those operating in Protestant countries. This may be due to the fact that the structural organization of Catholicism is based on a vertical, top-down control system, which does not foster trust and requires constant assurance. This explains the emphasis placed on SRA by stakeholders adhering to Catholicism. Stakeholders from Protestant countries, on the other hand, tend to rely more on the principles of social ethics and social mutual control that characterize their doctrine and, therefore, do not need any additional, external assurance of corporate commitment to sustainability. Originality/value This paper provides new insights into the influence that religiosity and religious diversity have on SRA. This study also provides evidence on the usefulness of social norm theory for conducting empirical research into corporate practices and could set an example for future studies in this field.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11391/1537734
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