Internet-Supported Sustainability Reporting: Developments in Germany

Research output: Journal contributionsJournal articlesResearchpeer-review


Purpose: The paper aims to explore trends in the use of internet-supported sustainability reporting for German DAX30 companies. Particular focus is to be given to the question of the extent that these companies use the more effective internet-specific methods of provision, accessibility, comprehensibility and dialogue compared to print-based reporting systems in the dissemination of information to, and communication with, stakeholders. Design/methodology/approach: The paper draws on data from three studies in 2004, 2005 and 2007. The research is based on quantitative content analysis from these studies and on an additional e-mail survey in 2005. Findings: Analysis shows an overall increase in the use of internet-specific approaches on sustainability web sites between 2004 and 2007. Particular attention has been paid to developments to improve the access and comprehensibility of information on sustainability. There remains a great deal of potential for improvement in the use of tools for stakeholder dialogue, in the introduction of customised reporting elements and in the use of other internet technologies to improve the dissemination of past and present information. It seems that companies increasingly consider internet features to be useful for reducing information costs for companies and stakeholders but not for enhancing corporate value through more intensive and credible dialogue. The findings also indicate a shortfall in communicating trade-offs and conflicts between environmental, social and economic impacts of businesses. Originality/value: The paper is the first to outline trends in the use of corporate sustainability reporting via the internet. The paper also extends previous empirical research in Germany that focused on printed sustainability reports.
Original languageEnglish
JournalManagement Research Review
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)1064-1082
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2010