Social Reports in Italian Universities: Disclosures and Preparers’ Perspective

Paper type: research paper Purpose: Although there is no mandatory requirement for Italian universities to report beyond a financial report, several universities have produce d a social report, despite the context of increasing pressure to cut financial resources. This study aims to investigate if Italian state universities produce voluntary social reports and, if so, what they disclose, and also to explore their motivations to do so and the main difficulties encountered. Design/methodology/approach: Content analysis is applied to the total pool of Italian universities’ social reports observed up to 2010. Also, a subsequent online survey was undertaken with preparers of those social reports. Findings: The findings indicate that a social report is not a common practice in all Italian universities. Subsequent online interviews and thematic analysis found that a key individual within the university played a pivotal role in developing a social report. In the pool of reports examined, there were few social and environmental aspects disclosed. Also the respondents to our survey highlighted that the main difficulty in the development of social reports was the lack of systematic collection of non-financial information within the university context. Research limitations/implication: The study is limited to the total Italian university social reports produced up until 2010 and those who answered the on line survey. Originality/value: Most of the prior Italian litera ture on social reports is normative in nature and focuses on what should be reported, rather than on what was actually reported. This study is an attempt at analysing the pool of Italian universities’ social reports and could be useful in understanding how and why organisations engage in voluntary social reports.




All Rights Reserved