Disclosures of Social Value Creation and Managing Legitimacy: A Case Study of Three Global Social Enterprises

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Abstract

This study seeks to fill the gap in the existing literature by examining how and whether disclosure of social value creation becomes a part of the legitimation strategies of social enterprises. In particular, using Suchman's (1995) moral dimension of legitimacy theory, this study sets out whether and how disclosures by three global social organisations – Grameen Bank, Charity Water and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – conform to the expectations of the broader community. The study finds that there is an apparent disconnection between disclosure and action by social enterprises. With reference to a few incidents, social enterprises use disclosure as a part of their managerial efforts, rather than to create moral legitimacy. The notion of apparent disconnection between disclosure and real action by social enterprises is evident. The notion is consistent with extant disclosure literature capturing the motivations for the disclosure practices of corporations. The findings of this paper suggest that when an organisation (whether it is a corporation or a social enterprise) faces a legitimacy crisis, it appears to disclose good news rather than bad news, which calls into question organisational moral legitimacy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-314
Number of pages18
JournalAustralian Accounting Review
Volume27
Issue number3
Early online date20 Jan 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2017

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Value creation
Social values
Legitimacy
Disclosure
Social enterprise
News
Legitimation
Legitimacy theory
Charity
Incidents
Social organization
Grameen Bank
Water

Cite this

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abstract = "This study seeks to fill the gap in the existing literature by examining how and whether disclosure of social value creation becomes a part of the legitimation strategies of social enterprises. In particular, using Suchman's (1995) moral dimension of legitimacy theory, this study sets out whether and how disclosures by three global social organisations – Grameen Bank, Charity Water and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – conform to the expectations of the broader community. The study finds that there is an apparent disconnection between disclosure and action by social enterprises. With reference to a few incidents, social enterprises use disclosure as a part of their managerial efforts, rather than to create moral legitimacy. The notion of apparent disconnection between disclosure and real action by social enterprises is evident. The notion is consistent with extant disclosure literature capturing the motivations for the disclosure practices of corporations. The findings of this paper suggest that when an organisation (whether it is a corporation or a social enterprise) faces a legitimacy crisis, it appears to disclose good news rather than bad news, which calls into question organisational moral legitimacy.",
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