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Reporting on social responsibility

A comparison between the Italian and French approaches to the social and economic appraisal of organisations dedicated to production

Principles of corporate social responsibility that must be put into practice, but which must also be demonstrated, and thus officially reported on as well as described. This is a condition that now applies to all organisations that operate in the manufacturing sector, and one that must first be fully understood. “L’évolution historique et théorique de l’information des entreprises: Prémisses pour une perspective généraliste dans l’étude du Reporting” (The theoretical and historical evolution of firm accounting: Premises for a generalist approach to reporting), an article by Giusy Guzzo (Department of Economics, Business and Statistics, University of Palermo) and Fabrizio Rotolo (Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Milan) provides a good overview of the current situation with regard to reporting obligations and opportunities relating to “stories” of responsible business.

Guzzo and Rotolo approach the issue by comparing Italian ragioneria and French comptabilité (both terms mean “accounting” in their respective languages). The authors explain that their goal is to “lay the foundations for a generalist approach to corporate reporting that embraces both financial and non-financial information”.

They go on to explain that “from a historical perspective, the theme of social and environmental responsibility was developed progressively over the course of the twentieth century by both Italian and French research, gaining increasing importance. In an equally gradual manner, the theme of non-financial reporting has been interpreted, on the one hand, as an evolution or extension of financial reporting, and on the other hand, in opposition to this. However, very little attention has been paid to the general concept of reporting as a whole.”

On this basis, therefore, the article begins by retracing the evolution of social and environmental responsibility and non-financial reporting in accounting (which is divided into ragioneria and comptabilité); in the second part, the authors attempt to lay the foundations for the development of the theoretical foundations of a reporting method that represents and communicates the “integral positioning” of companies and “their overall performance, with regard to the various aspects of the company, both financial and non-financial.”

As such, the article develops a kind of comprehensive overview of the theme of the corporate activities that are reported upon in the financial statements: this also represents a qualitative leap in terms of corporate culture.

 

L’évolution historique et théorique de l’information des entreprises: Prémisses pour une perspective généraliste dans l’étude du Reporting (The theoretical and historical evolution of firm accounting: Premises for a generalist approach to reporting)
Giusy Guzzo, Fabrizio Rotolo
Working Papers, Volume III, 2019

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