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The Korean Society for Journalism & Communication Studies - Vol. 65 , No. 1

[ Article ]
Korean Journal of Journalism & Communication StudiesVol. 64, No. 6, pp.238-274
Abbreviation: KSJCS
ISSN: 2586-7369 (Online)
Print publication date 31 Dec 2020
Received 07 Aug 2020 Revised 13 Nov 2020 Accepted 30 Nov 2020

기업의 정당성과 지속가능성 커뮤니케이션 : 지속가능성 정보공시의 결정요인에 관한 비교분석
윤태일** ; 변혜영***
**한림대학교 광고홍보학과 교수 (
***강원대학교 경영회계학부 교수 (

Corporate Legitimacy and Sustainability Communication: A Comparative Analysis on the Determinants of Sustainability Information Disclosure
Tae-Il Yoon** ; Hae-Young Byun***
**Professor, Department of Advertising and Public Relations, Hallym University, first author (
***Professor, Division of Business Administration and Accounting, Kangwon National University, corresponding author (
Funding Information ▼


기업활동이 한 사회의 규범과 가치에 비추어 당연하고 적절하며 바람직하다고 여겨질 때 기업은 정당성을 확보할 수 있다. 정당성을 확보할 때 기업의 존립이 가능하고 경쟁력을 갖는다는 점에서 기업 정당성은 위기관리와 명성관리의 토대이기도 하다. 기업 정당성을 강화하는 효과적인 수단 중 하나가 지속가능 경영을 실천하고 그에 대한 정보를 이해관계자에게 널리 알리는 지속가능성 정보공시이다. 기업의 재무정보 데이터와 GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) 지속가능성 공시 데이터베이스를 이용하여 이 논문은 지속가능 경영에 대한 정당성 압력이 한국기업과 글로벌기업의 정보공시에 어떤 영향을 미치는가를 분석해 보았다. 분석결과 한국과 글로벌 기업은 정당성 압력과 관련하여 지속가능성 정보공시의 결정요인에서 차이가 드러났다. 한국기업은 매체에 많이 노출될수록 정당성 압력을 많이 받아 정보공시 수준이 높은 반면, 글로벌기업은 환경에 민감한 산업에 속하는 기업이 정당성 압력을 많이 받아 정보공시 수준이 높았다. 매체 노출에서 기인하는 한국기업의 정당성 압력이 외생적이고 조건적인데 반해 환경 민감도에 따른 글로벌기업의 정당성 압력은 내재적이고 불가피하다는 점을 감안하면, 한국기업이 글로벌 경쟁력을 확보하기 위해서도 정당성 압력이 실효적으로 작동되어야 함을 논의했다.


When business activities are considered desirable, proper, or appropriate within some social system of norms and values, corporations can maintain legitimacy. Given that companies can survive and become competitive after gaining legitimacy, coping with corporate legitimacy is the foundation for crisis management and reputation management. In this context, corporate sustainability communication (CSC) has emerged as an important area of ​​strategic communication. CSC is a form of social responsibility management that contributes to the sustainable development of a society and involves actively communicating the information to the public. One effective CSC channel is the sustainability report, an annual publication that discloses information about how much a company has practiced sustainability management.

Among many theories that explain the determinants affecting the disclosure of sustainability information, the legitimacy theory argues that the greater the visibility of a company, the greater the legitimacy pressure that a company should fulfill its social responsibilities, and that companies more actively disclose information on sustainability management to cope with this legitimacy pressure. As the business environment becomes global, stakeholders' expectations for corporate legitimacy vary from country to country, and accordingly, the factors affecting sustainable information disclosure may also differ. Although understanding which legitimacy pressures affect sustainability information disclosure is more important in the global environment, there has been little research on this.

To fill this research gap, this paper examines which determinants drive Korean companies to disclose their sustainability information to cope with legitimacy pressures, and how they are similar and different in some respects compared to global companies. Specifically, we measure the level of information disclosure contained in sustainability reports of Korean and global companies, and then combine it with the corporate financial data by using GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) sustainability disclosure database and business data platform.

The results indicate that Korean and global companies differ in the determinants of sustainability disclosure in relation to the legitimacy pressure. The more Korean companies are exposed to the media, the greater the legitimacy pressure, leading to a higher level of sustainability disclosure. On the other hand, global companies from environmentally sensitive industries face strong legitimacy pressure, which leads to a higher level of sustainability disclosure. The findings suggest that the legitimacy pressure of Korean companies resulting from media exposure is exogenous and conditional, whereas the legitimacy pressure of global companies due to environmental sensitivity is inherent and inevitable.

Theoretical and practical implications of this paper are discussed. Theoretically, This paper presents a new research agenda for Korean communications research in analyzing group-level corporate behavior based on objective data platform and attempting a cross-national analysis. From a practical perspective, this paper stresses the need for policy intervention that effectively leverages legitimacy pressure for Korean companies to secure global competitiveness.

Keywords: corporate legitimacy, corporate sustainability communication (CSC), information disclosure, Global Reporting Initiative(GR)
키워드: 기업 정당성, 기업 지속가능성 커뮤니케이션, 정보공시, GRI (Global Reporting Initiative)


This work was supported by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2016S1A5A2A01026448). This study was supported by 2018 Research Grant from Kangwon National University (No. 520180079).

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