The Potential Role of Social Reporting in the Decision-Making Process of Cooperatives

The Potential Role of Social Reporting in the Decision-Making Process of Cooperatives

Fabio De Matteis (Università del Salento – Lecce, Italy) and Daniela Preite (Università del Salento – Lecce, Italy & SDA Bocconi – Milano, Italy)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8482-7.ch007


Accountability in the social economy sector is very important because it is inherent in the nature of the organizations of this sector. The literature on the topic of social accounting and accountability is abundant and highlights the benefits and the criticisms of social reporting. The objective of the chapter arises from the literature review that highlights how more in-depth studies are needed on the characters and role of social accountability in decision-making processes. In order to answer the research question (How is social reporting performed and how does social information influence the decision making of the management in a cooperative?), the single case study methodology has been adopted, considering embedded units of analysis and focusing on the social report of an Italian retail cooperative (COOP Lombardia). Thanks to the analyzed case study, it is possible to conclude that the social report can represent a tool of accountability that also informs future decisions, realizing a circular relationship between results achieved and decisions to be taken.
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Accountability And Social Report: Some Literature Contribution

Literature provides numerous contributions aimed at outlining the concept of accountability, its articulation in different components and the evolution that accountability has highlighted over time.

In extreme synthesis, the concept of accountability (Steccolini, 2004) requires the presence of an activity of transferring information from the accountor (social economy sector organization) to the accountee (stakeholder) to whom the possibility of evaluation is recognized on the basis of the information obtained.

In particular, in order to apply the accountability concept, the availability of information is necessary, but not sufficient. In effect, the information must also have the character of reliability, comprehensibility, accessibility, distribution and dissemination (Herzlinger, 1996).

The theoretical and empirical analyses contained in the international literature on accountability, are distinguished by their initial and overwhelming focus on the social reporting aspects related to the for-profit sector (Linowes, 1972; Estes, 1976; Gray et al., 1987).

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