Informations and abstract
Keywords: Corporate Social Responsibility; Financial Reporting; Corporate Ethics; Corporate Law Theory; Capital Markets Law.
The aim of the paper is to investigate whether it is desirable that public companies report their Corporate Social Responsibility-related activities through their financial reports. Indeed, CSR-related activities create both positive and negative externalities that are difficult to assess. However, by employing IAS/IFRS standards, companies can report these externalities in a manner analogous to intangible assets. If companies reported CSR-related activities, they would monetise such externalities, and would thus be incentivized to engage in ethical actions and/or refrain from unethical ones. The underlying assumption is that this is desirable for reasons of efficiency and justice, in the meaning explained in the paper. The arguments proceed as follows. First, the paper analyses the evolution of CSR theories to then show how EU law makes room for accommodating CSR stances. It will be demonstrated how this is also true for Italian corporate law. Second, the paper addresses whether companies really need to have CSR-related information included in their balance sheets and, ultimately, in their financial reports. The ultimate answer will be yes, given the twofold crucial function that these tools absolve in the EU context. The third part of the paper further articulates this answer, by showing how companies might resort to IAS/IFRS principles that regulate intangible assets to report their CSR-related activities.