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Open AccessArticle

Quality and Diffusion of Social and Sustainability Reporting in Italian Public Utility Companies

1
Department of Economics, Management and Business Law, University of Bari, 70121 Bari, Italy
2
Department of Economics and Management, University of Ferrara, 44121 Ferrara, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2020, 12(11), 4525; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12114525
Received: 21 April 2020 / Revised: 20 May 2020 / Accepted: 26 May 2020 / Published: 2 June 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability Accounting and Accountability)
In recent decades, non-financial reporting has been widely debated in the literature relating to both public and private sectors. Non-financial reporting is used to increase accountability and transparency, and to adapt to external pressures and stakeholder expectations. The focus on external factors, i.e., transparency and stakeholders, has largely precluded research into the quality of non-financial reporting. Nevertheless, the quality and reliability of sustainability reports have been widely questioned in the literature. Non-financial reporting may provide purely symbolic actions to manage expectations. This paper analyzes the level of diffusion and quality of non-financial reporting tools in the public utility sector. We use the principles of the GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) framework to measure quality, i.e., clarity and accuracy, timeliness and stakeholder engagement, comparability, and reliability. We use a qualitative exploratory approach with a mix of primary and secondary sources. The results show that despite the increasing use of non-financial reporting in organizational life, it is not diffused within public utilities. We address the issue of quality, and find that, overall, the accuracy/clarity and comparability of non-financial reporting is satisfactory; timeliness and stakeholder engagement appear to be acceptable, while reliability does not appear to be acceptable. View Full-Text
Keywords: sustainability; non-financial reporting; quality; diffusion sustainability; non-financial reporting; quality; diffusion
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Badia, F.; Bracci, E.; Tallaki, M. Quality and Diffusion of Social and Sustainability Reporting in Italian Public Utility Companies. Sustainability 2020, 12, 4525.

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