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Articles (2012), Accounting, Organizations and Society, 37 (1), pp. 14-25

Do Actions Speak Louder than Words? An Empirical Investigation of Corporate Environmental Reputation


In this study, we investigate the extent to which firms’ environmental performance is reflected in perceptions of their environmental reputation and whether environmental disclosure serves to mediate the negative aspects of poorer environmental performance associated with those assessments. We also examine whether differences in environmental performance and environmental disclosure appear to be associated with membership selection to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI), a factor we also believe may be associated with perceptions of environmental reputation. Based on a cross-sectional sample of 92 U.S. firms from environmentally sensitive industries, we find that environmental performance measured using Trucost environmental performance scores is negatively related to both reputation scores and membership in the DJSI. We argue this is due to the more extensive disclosure levels of firms that are worse performers and the finding of a significant positive relation between environmental disclosure and both the environmental reputation measures and DJSI membership. Finally, we show that the DJSI designation positively influences perceptions of corporate reputation. Overall, our results suggest that voluntary environmental disclosure appears to mediate the effect of poor environmental performance on environmental reputation. Perhaps more troubling, our results also suggest that membership in the DJSI appears to be driven more by what firms say than what they do. Thus, like voluntary disclosure, the DJSI may actually be hindering improved future corporate environmental performance. Lien vers l'article

CHO, C.H., GUIDRY, R.P., HAGEMAN, A. and PATTEN, D.M. (2012). Do Actions Speak Louder than Words? An Empirical Investigation of Corporate Environmental Reputation. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 37(1), pp. 14-25.