Sustainability reports have during the last decade had a strong development. Both in terms of establishing a sustainability assurance, in its form, and get it assured together with standards, principles and regulations which organisations and accountants have utilized. The growth of sustainability reports and the choice of getting them assured have in particular favoured the accounting business. Due to this result, some critics have voiced that assuring a sustainability report gain accounting firms more than it gains the actual organisation. Other say that it is necessary in order to increase the credibility and the eligibility of the report, while it also has become a requirement from stakeholders. A clash of opinions within this subject awoke our interest and the results of this study will show the reality of assurance reports in Sweden. The purpose with this paper is to find out how much companies pay to get their sustainability report assured and to identify the factors that might affect the price. In this study, we ask:
-What is the cost/benefit of assuring a sustainability report?
The methodology used in this study was web surveys. The target group consisted of 41 organisations based all over Sweden. The web survey was answered by the contact person confirmed as responsible for the organisations sustainability report. Further, to create a foundation for the study we conducted a literature review from books, scientific articles and other scientific papers covering this subject. Data which has gained focus are for example sustainability reports, revisions and assurance of sustainability reports, framework and current theories in the field. Other types of data we have used come from the respondents themselves.
It is significantly easier for organisations to calculate the cost as it is concrete while the benefit is abstract and more difficult to identify. In general, organisations that took part in the study feel that using assurance reports is beneficial. One of the reasons for this is because the organisations claim they get knowledge, which is shown in that the internal audit is improved and the credibility of the organisations is strengthened. The width was between 0 SEK- and more than 300 000 SEK. We have been able to confirm through this study that large organisations with a high turnover and a well designed sustainability report pay significantly more than what a company with a lower turnover and a less well designed sustainability report does. There was no compulsion to these two factors would occur at the same time. The difference in cost we assumed could be connected to the number of revision points in the assurance report, but this was not confirmed as such events proved to be unrelated.
|Date of Award||2010-Aug-16|
|Supervisor||Fredrik Ljungdahl (Supervisor) & Stig Westerdahl (Examiner)|
- 15 HE credits
Swedish Standard Keywords
- Business Administration (50202)
- sustainability report
- agency theory
- legitimacy theory