Context and Purpose: Recent years in Italy have witnessed an emerging interest under scholars on public sector’s social report, with particular reference to local governments. This document is used as a tool for external accountability’s purposes, as well as for management control system’s purposes. Over last years this phenomenon has extended also to the university sector, with 9 pioneering experiences. Despite this practice is not mandatory required, two Italian guidelines have been issued to promote it over universities (Directive, 2006; GBS, 2008). However, just a few studies have been published on this topic. Particularly, little research has been carried out in relation to the analysis of the practices. To bridge this gap, the current study is aimed to provide a comparative analysis of the pioneering social reports in order to highlight strengths and weaknesses of the phenomenon, and contribute to the debate about its development. Design/methodology/approach: The research was conducted through a documentary analysis applied to the social reports published by the Italian universities until 2009. The analysis investigates the following aspects: (1) the institutional framework under which the initiative was developed, (2) the process of reporting, (3) the content and structure of the document, as well as the guidelines followed (4) the link between social reporting and planning, and the intention to replicate the initiative. Findings: The paper founds that: (1) the institutional framework for the social report’s adoption is motivated by an increasing attention of stakeholder and funders on the results assessment; (2) the process of reporting is hardly illustrated, it involves mainly internal employees, and generally it does not engage stakeholders; (3) there is a wide diversity in structure and contents, and an incompleteness of the areas reported. Moreover, in most cases one or more guidelines for social reporting are taken into consideration; however, the Italian Directive (2006) is the most considered; (4) social reports are often declared to be linked with the planning process, and all universities stated their intention to replicate the initiative. Practical implications: Given the newness of the two Italian guidelines for social reporting, and the lack of studies on reporting practices the current study identifying strengths and weaknesses of current practices can contribute to: on one hand, the dissemination of social reporting practices in universities, on the other hand, the improvement of the next editions. Originality: The national and international literature has paid little attention to the social report in universities, and the studies carried out were mainly normative in nature. This research analyses what Italian universities actually report in their social reports, and establishes what the open issues are and highlights further areas of research.

PIONEERING PRACTICES OF SOCIAL REPORT IN UNIVERSITIES: THE ITALIAN CASE

DEL SORDO, CARLOTTA;SIBONI, BENEDETTA;PAZZI, SILVIA
2011

Abstract

Context and Purpose: Recent years in Italy have witnessed an emerging interest under scholars on public sector’s social report, with particular reference to local governments. This document is used as a tool for external accountability’s purposes, as well as for management control system’s purposes. Over last years this phenomenon has extended also to the university sector, with 9 pioneering experiences. Despite this practice is not mandatory required, two Italian guidelines have been issued to promote it over universities (Directive, 2006; GBS, 2008). However, just a few studies have been published on this topic. Particularly, little research has been carried out in relation to the analysis of the practices. To bridge this gap, the current study is aimed to provide a comparative analysis of the pioneering social reports in order to highlight strengths and weaknesses of the phenomenon, and contribute to the debate about its development. Design/methodology/approach: The research was conducted through a documentary analysis applied to the social reports published by the Italian universities until 2009. The analysis investigates the following aspects: (1) the institutional framework under which the initiative was developed, (2) the process of reporting, (3) the content and structure of the document, as well as the guidelines followed (4) the link between social reporting and planning, and the intention to replicate the initiative. Findings: The paper founds that: (1) the institutional framework for the social report’s adoption is motivated by an increasing attention of stakeholder and funders on the results assessment; (2) the process of reporting is hardly illustrated, it involves mainly internal employees, and generally it does not engage stakeholders; (3) there is a wide diversity in structure and contents, and an incompleteness of the areas reported. Moreover, in most cases one or more guidelines for social reporting are taken into consideration; however, the Italian Directive (2006) is the most considered; (4) social reports are often declared to be linked with the planning process, and all universities stated their intention to replicate the initiative. Practical implications: Given the newness of the two Italian guidelines for social reporting, and the lack of studies on reporting practices the current study identifying strengths and weaknesses of current practices can contribute to: on one hand, the dissemination of social reporting practices in universities, on the other hand, the improvement of the next editions. Originality: The national and international literature has paid little attention to the social report in universities, and the studies carried out were mainly normative in nature. This research analyses what Italian universities actually report in their social reports, and establishes what the open issues are and highlights further areas of research.
Proceedings of INTED2011
4180
4190
del Sordo C.; Siboni B.; Pazzi S.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/102014
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