Purpose The study aims to examine the impact of corporate governance in terms of certain board characteristics on the level of universities’ voluntary sustainability disclosure. Design/methodology/approach A content analysis based on a comprehensive disclosure index – that also accounts for the impact that COVID-19 exerted on the social dimension of university activities – is performed on a sample of Italian public universities’ websites for the year 2020. An ordinary least squares regression model is estimated to test the association between universities’ board characteristics, namely, board size, board independence and board gender diversity (including the presence of a female rector), and online sustainability disclosure. Findings This study provides evidence that websites represent a valid tool used by universities to highlight their social performance and demonstrate their commitment to dealing with the pandemic’s social and economic disruption by supporting their stakeholders. Board gender diversity and female Rector’s presence are crucial factors that positively impact voluntary sustainability disclosure levels. Practical implications Policymakers and regulators can benefit from the study’s findings. Using the results of this study, they may reflect on the need to regulate sustainability reporting in universities. In addition, findings may offer policymakers inspiration for regulating the presence of women on university boards. Originality/value This study offers novel contributions to existing literature analysing the university’s voluntary sustainability disclosure practices through alternative communication tools such as websites. Moreover, it provides novel insight into the role of the board gender diversity in university sustainability disclosure practices.

Online sustainability disclosure practices in the university context. The role of the board of directors

Nicolò, Giuseppe
;
Aversano, Natalia;Tartaglia Polcini, Paolo
2023-01-01

Abstract

Purpose The study aims to examine the impact of corporate governance in terms of certain board characteristics on the level of universities’ voluntary sustainability disclosure. Design/methodology/approach A content analysis based on a comprehensive disclosure index – that also accounts for the impact that COVID-19 exerted on the social dimension of university activities – is performed on a sample of Italian public universities’ websites for the year 2020. An ordinary least squares regression model is estimated to test the association between universities’ board characteristics, namely, board size, board independence and board gender diversity (including the presence of a female rector), and online sustainability disclosure. Findings This study provides evidence that websites represent a valid tool used by universities to highlight their social performance and demonstrate their commitment to dealing with the pandemic’s social and economic disruption by supporting their stakeholders. Board gender diversity and female Rector’s presence are crucial factors that positively impact voluntary sustainability disclosure levels. Practical implications Policymakers and regulators can benefit from the study’s findings. Using the results of this study, they may reflect on the need to regulate sustainability reporting in universities. In addition, findings may offer policymakers inspiration for regulating the presence of women on university boards. Originality/value This study offers novel contributions to existing literature analysing the university’s voluntary sustainability disclosure practices through alternative communication tools such as websites. Moreover, it provides novel insight into the role of the board gender diversity in university sustainability disclosure practices.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11386/4811291
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