Recent Publications.

Creating Shared Value: collecting signal from the universe of profit, not-for-profit and social enterprises. 

by Corazza L., Scagnelli S.D., Mancini G. (2014)

The academic debate around the concept of shared value is in its infancy. Companies and scholars are adopting opposite behavior of contrast and placid acceptance. The aim of the paper, presented in Italian at SIDREA Conference 2014, is to discuss the link between strategy and social accounting in those firms that affirm to adopt a shared value strategy. How do these firms communicate their perceptions and reflections on shared value? The methodology used focuses on a collection and interpretation of the synoptic tables published by those firms that report their social and environmental performances into an integrated report. The collection of these data has led us able to go beyond the surface of an “imagine” trying to interpret the meaning represented. The results collected have stressed that the shared value logic is perceived as a process.

The presentation of the paper in Italian can be downloaded here: Corazza_Scagnelli_Mancini_Sidrea_2014_web.pdf

The abstract of the paper in Italian can be downloaded here: Abstract_SIDREA.docx

For further info on the paper presented feel free to contact the Center.

Outcomes from cooperation: evidence from Italian business network contracts. (forthcoming 2014).

Companies’ governance relationships are becoming a crucial strategy in today’s business, especially for Small and Medium sized enterprises (SMEs) whose competitiveness has been undermined by several multi-sector crises, lack of proper resources and recently by governmental austerity policies. SMEs are looking for effective types of mutual cooperation for leveraging common governance, practices, knowledge and innovation. Although European policy makers are really engaged in fostering SME competitiveness by suggesting inter-organisational strategies, SMEs are still facing a lack of common principles and common forms of contractual coordination. Recently, only a few countries’ regulators developed formal models to enhance cooperation. The sole examples being the Italian law on business network contracts adopted in 2009 (as per Decrees n. 5/2009 and 78/2010), and the German cluster networks. The Italian law on business network contracts points out strategic goals and mutual activities of SMEs that want to build a formal network. Since its adoption more than 800 formal networks involving more than 4,200 companies have been incorporated. Therefore, given the current Italian crisis, it is timely and important to assess the effectiveness of this formal inter-organisational and governance policy and to address its real outcomes in term of effective SME competitiveness. Specifically, the aim of this study is to address if cooperation aims, which have been jointly stated and signed on network contracts, have contributed to SME growth and competitiveness in the period 2009-2012. The empirical evidence is based on a sample of companies which, as at May 2013, have been involved in contractual business networks. After  in-depth content analysis of the available network contracts we applied statistical multivariate analysis to understand the influence of cooperation aims and other features on growth and competitiveness outcomes. Specifically, growth and competitiveness outcomes have been accounted as analytical variations of sales and financial ratios compared with industry peers, while the length and intensity of planned aims of cooperation have been related to contracts’ contents and features related to innovation, scale and cost reductions, product integration, sales and marketing coordination, technology integration, and deployment of specific projects.

Our preliminary findings suggest that, in the short term, specific aims of cooperation or contract features might hinder business growth and competitiveness.

Importantly, the study provides an original contribution to the current management and accounting literature by addressing the strategic role played by corporate network formalisation. As no such type of formal practice presently exists in other European countries, the evidence can be useful to other SMEs and, moreover, to international regulators which are trying to find effective measures to overcome the current economic downturn.


How SMEs Disclose their Sustainability Performance. Which Variables Influence the Choice of Reporting Guidelines?

by Scagnelli S.D., Corazza L. & Cisi M. (2013)

in Lucrezia Songini, Anna Pistoni, Christian Herzig (ed.) Accounting and Control for Sustainability (Studies in Managerial and Financial Accounting, Volume 26), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.77-114

Nowadays, social and environmental reporting is approached in different ways, paths and fields by either large-, small-, or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). However, as demonstrated by previous scholars, SMEs have been critically discussed because they provide lack of proper sustainability disclosure. The fact that the predominant approach of SMEs toward social responsibility is often “sunken” and not “explicit” can drive the lack of disclosure. Furthermore, unstructured communication practices create difficulties in measuring and reporting the sustainability reporting phenomenon in SMEs. The aim of our study is to shed light on the activity of SMEs’ sustainability reporting and disclosure, specifically, by addressing the variables that influence the choice of the guidelines used to prepare sustainability reports.

The research has been carried out by using qualitative and quantitative methodologies. The empirical evidence is based on all the Italian companies, mostly SMEs, that were certified in 2011 as having adopted both environmental (i.e., ISO14001 or EMAS) and social (i.e., SA8000) management systems. A multivariate linear regression model has been developed to address the influence of several variables (i.e., financial performance, size, time after achievement of the certifications, group/conglomerate control, etc.) on the guidelines’ choice for preparing sustainability reports.

Our findings demonstrate that SMEs prefer to use simple guidelines such as those guidelines that are mandatory under management system certifications. However, the sustainability disclosure driven by the adoption of international guidelines may be more complex if the SME is controlled within a group of companies or if a significant amount of time has passed since the certification date. As such, we developed a taxonomy of their different behavioral drivers according to a legitimacy theory approach.

At this stage, our study didn’t focus on the contents’ quality of the disclosure and reporting practices adopted by SMEs, which is obviously a worthwhile and important area for further research. Furthermore, the analysis took into account the impact of a number of easily accessible variables; therefore, it can be extended to investigate the effect on disclosure of other relevant variables (i.e., nature of the board of directors, age, and industrial sector in which the company operates) as well as contexts prevailing in other countries.

The study represents an important contribution for understanding how and why managers might use externally focused disclosure on social and environmental issues to benefit the company’s legitimacy.

Our study provides interesting insights for policy makers who require social or environmental certification when calling for tenders or specific EU contracts, in order to put aside the “brand” or “symbol” and really focus on the disclosed practices.

Previous studies have provided only a few evidence about reporting practices and related influencing features of SMEs’ sustainability actions. As such, the study wishes to make a significant contribution to the existing literature on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) by providing relevant insights about the factors which influence the guidelines used by SMEs in preparing their sustainability reports.