Investigating the impacts of shadow reports on the social and environmental reports of their targeted corporations
This research aims to explore empirical evidence for understanding the impacts of silent and shadow reports on the social and environmental reports of the corporation they targeted. The impacts of shadow reporting are investigated according to the existence, nature and effectiveness of the impacts respectively. The method designed for this research is the combination of two in-depth case/site studies and a contextual analysis method. The first site is Save Happy Valley Coalition and Solid Energy New Zealand Limited. The second site is Action on Smoking, Health and British American Tobacco. The shadow reports published by the two Non-Governmental Organizations and the social and environmental reports prepared by the two corporations are examined by interpreting of the contents, language, structure and images presented in those reports. Comparison between the findings of the two sites is provided to enable a further understanding of the shadow reporting impacts. This study reveals that not only do shadow reporting impacts have positive impacts but also the effectiveness of the impacts appears very different. Shadow reporting has great potential to be effective in narrowing reporting-performance gaps, arguing against corporate hegemonic discourse, and being educative to corporate social and environmental reporting practice. The study focuses on the interpretation of the texts, images and contents which inevitably contains subjective and personal understanding. Furthermore, the research emphasises on the changes or improvements in the selected corporate reports such that all the data analysed are restricted as to information disclosed in the selected reports without triangulation with external sources. This research addresses the current gap in the literature on the understanding of shadow reporting impacts which would be valuable for the future development and engagement of shadow reporting. The second significance of this research is that it contributes a new method specifically designed for analysing the impacts of shadow reporting.