Comparing and Evaluating the Social Impact Assessment Reporting of Conventional and Social Banks
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The purpose of this mixed-method thesis was to assess the relationships between banking organizational characteristics and the quality of social impact assessments reported by conventional and social banks. Employing a multi-theoretical framework of legitimacy theory and stakeholder theory, the following characteristics were investigated in their relation to the quality of social impact assessments: bank type, bank size, net profit, and home country. Following a content analysis approach, the quality of assessments reported by banks, concerning their internal operations, philanthropic activities, and financing activities, were evaluated using an instrument based on the Impact Value Chain. Overall, the study found significant heterogeneity in the quality of disclosure among the three activity areas of the banks, with the assessment of internal operations being the highest quality reported. Also it appears that conventional banks face more pressures and demands to assess their impacts compared to social banks. Furthermore, for conventional banks, the variables of size and net profit showed to be determinants for social impact assessment quality. Conversely, the assessment behaviour of social banks were found to have no associations with the banking characteristics investigated. Overall, the findings of the assessment behaviour of conventional banks are generally in agreement with legitimacy theory and stakeholder theory, however these extant disclosure theories struggle at predicting the disclosure behaviour of social banks, likely because of their relatively small size. Moreover, the challenges inherent to measuring the indirect social impacts of philanthropic and financial activities appear to remain significant, further signalling for future research.