From Tuscany to Victoria: Some Determinants of Sustainability Reporting by Local Councils

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Greco, Giulio, Sciulli, Nick and D'onza, Giuseppe (2012) From Tuscany to Victoria: Some Determinants of Sustainability Reporting by Local Councils. Local Government Studies, 38 (5). pp. 681-705. ISSN 0300-3930 (print) 1743-9388 (online)


This paper seeks to respond to recent calls by the academic community for studies investigating sustainability reporting by the public sector, as well as for more engagement-based studies of this issue by examining the views of managers within local councils (LC). The objective of this project is to provide insights as to the possible reasons and explanations for the types of sustainability disclosures among a group of local councils operating in Italy and Australia. In particular, an international comparison is undertaken to ascertain the effect of culture on the adoption of sustainability reporting (SR). Evidence is collected from semi-structured interviews with managers and accountants from ten local councils consisting of five from Italy (Tuscany) and five from Australia (Victoria). The findings suggest that although there are available some general policy documents relating to sustainability reporting, councils are left to their own discretion as to what they consider fit under the definition of sustainability and therefore, determine to a large extent, what to report to stakeholders. Moreover, there was a range of legitimacy type behaviours displayed by a number of councils while others were influenced by notions of public sector accountability and transparency. Adopting Hofstede's cultural framework, the research also highlights the relevance of the Italian and Australian cultural settings in shaping the SR practices used by LCs. The findings suggest that differences regarding cultural dimensions, such as ‘power distance’ and ‘uncertainty avoidance’, influence key aspects of SR.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.1080/03003930.2012.679932
Official URL
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1501 Accounting, Auditing and Accountability
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > College of Business
Keywords ResPubID25661, sustainability reporting, local councils, public sector, culture, auditing, social and environmental reporting, local governments, SER, accounting, finance, Australia, Italy, Victoria, Tuscany
Citations in Scopus 36 - View on Scopus
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