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Can “sin industries” prove their legitimacy through CSR reporting? A study of UK tobacco and gambling companies

Dhandhania, Asahita and O'Higgins, Eleanor (2021) Can “sin industries” prove their legitimacy through CSR reporting? A study of UK tobacco and gambling companies. Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal. ISSN 0951-3574

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Identification Number: 10.1108/AAAJ-11-2019-4239

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to examine the ways that sin industry companies attempt to utilise CSR reporting for legitimation. Design/methodology/approach: Conventional and summative content analyses were carried out on annual CSR reports in UK tobacco and gambling companies, juxtaposed against analysis of the actual behaviour of the companies, collectively and individually. Findings: The paper concludes that there is an ongoing tension between the business of sin industry companies and their attempts to establish and maintain any legitimacy, using CSR reporting in particular ways to try to prove their credentials to society and to engage salient stakeholder support. Ultimately, they aim to give themselves the scope for strategic choice to enable survival and financial flourishing. Research limitations/implications: Further research on CSR on other sin industries and in other jurisdictions with different regulatory situations could shed further light on the achievement or denial of different types of legitimacy. Studying different time periods as industries change would be of value. Practical implications: On a practical basis, the study offers guidelines to stakeholders on the use of CSR reports from sin companies, and suggests the establishment of objective external CSR reports, overseen by accounting regulators. Social implications: The paper provides an overview of the role of sin industries in society, and mitigating their harms. Originality/value: This study allowed for a comprehensive, dynamic and inclusive understanding of the interplay of CSR reporting and legitimacy by addressing conflicting interests between sin companies' social effects and inherent activities at the industry level. The methodology of multiple case study design in two sin industries combined content analysis of CSR reports, juxtaposed against analysis of behaviour in context. Previous research included the juxtaposition of actuality in analysis of only single case studies or particular issues. Thus, this research allows for a broader industry understanding. On a practical basis, the study offers guidelines to stakeholders on the use of CSR reports from sin companies, and suggests the establishment of objective external CSR reports, overseen by accounting regulators. At the social level, the paper provides an overview of sin industries in society, and mitigating their harms.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://www.emerald.com/insight/publication/issn/0...
Additional Information: © 2021 Emerald Publishing Limited.
Divisions: Management
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5601 Accounting
Date Deposited: 01 Oct 2021 08:45
Last Modified: 17 Nov 2021 01:16
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/112161

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