Martinez, Isabelle, Gillet-Monjarret, Claire and Rivière-Giordano, Claire (2021) The role and effectiveness of corporate social responsibility assurance in a mandatory setting: professional accountants’ perceptions. M@n@gement, vol. 24 (n° 1). pp. 59-79.

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Identification Number : 10.37725/mgmt.v24i1.4517


Firms using corporate social responsibility assurance (or CSRA) recruit an external and independent third party to undertake assurance of the corporate social responsibility (CSR) information that they disclose. From a theoretical perspective, CSRA may play a role within two distinct mechanisms: the signaling mechanism, whereby CSRA signals both the quality of the disclosed information and firms’ CSR performance, and the legitimizing mechanism, whereby CSRA is strategically used as a ‘sophisticated’ compliance exercise. Thus, while the signaling theory predicts that CSRA should provide the expected benefits for its intended users, studies based on the legitimacy theory question the effectiveness of CSRA. In an attempt to disentangle which mechanism is dominant, this study investigates how professional accountants, as assurance providers, perceive CSRA and its effectiveness. We use an online questionnaire survey involving a between-subjects experimental design with 104 French professional accountants as participants. The quantitative and qualitative results suggest, in line with legitimacy theory, that CSRA is used more as a compliance exercise than as an effective signal. We advance the idea that in the French setting, in which CSRA is mandatory, it is used by firms to create the illusion of transparency by complying with disclosure requirements. However, we offer an alternative interpretation by arguing that some professional accountants may in fact seek to resist the implementation of mandatory CSRA using a strategy of justification.

Item Type: Article
Language: English
Date: 2021
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Corporate social responsibility, Sustainable assurance, Experimental questionnaire, Professional accountants
Subjects: C- GESTION
Divisions: TSM Research (Toulouse)
Site: UT1
Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2022 07:56
Last Modified: 05 Sep 2023 13:21
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