Determinants of Web-based CSR Disclosure in the Food Industry

Florian Sommer, Jeanette Klink, Daniela Senkl, Monika Hartmann


Purpose –Web-based CSR disclosure provides a variety of advantages for firms. Determining factors for web-based CSR disclosure have been analyzed in several papers. However, only limited research has been conducted on both, the food industry and small and midsized enterprises. This paper is one contribution to fill this gap as we investigate web-based CSR communication of food processors including SME.

Design/methodology/approach – We analyzed corporate communication on the websites of 71 food producers from North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany using dictionary-based content analysis. Based on an ordered logit model the relationship between CSR communication and size, profitability, indebtedness and closeness to market was estimated. Economic data were obtained from the commercial database DAFNE.

Findings – Our results reveal that larger firms provide relatively more CSR information than smaller firms. There was no significant relationship between CSR disclosure and profitability or indebtedness of a company and an ambiguous relationship with regard to the determinant ‘closeness to market’. Regarding the different areas of communication we found that social compared to environmental aspects were underrepresented.
Practical implications – Social aspects of CSR could be used for differentiation in the market. Furthermore, as smaller firms provide relatively less information on CSR it might be worthwhile to analyze the central impediments for CSR communication for those companies.

Originality/Value – This paper contributes to the ongoing discussion about firms’ CSR communication. From a convenience sample of 71 food processing firms, including SME, it provides insight regarding the determinants for CSR disclosure on firms’ websites. With the focus on the food industry and the inclusion of SME we contribute with our study to two under-researched areas.


Corporate Social Responsibility; Online Communication; Dictionary Based Content Analysis; Food Industry

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ISSN 1869-6945


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