For many years, corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been under critical observation, particularly in environmentally sensitive industries such as mining. In response, mining companies voluntarily provide environmental and social information on their corporate websites. However, Australian investors do not make appreciable use of websites as their preferred source of information due to their general mistrust in corporate online information. In the light of national expectations and international requirements with regard to CSR online information, four research questions were developed. The first research question seeks to identify what Australian investors expect from environmental and social corporate initiatives and correspondent online disclosure. The second and third research questions deal with CSR information Australian gold mining companies disclose online and the differences in online disclosure related to leadership characteristics in the field. Finally, the fourth research question seeks to identify CSR online information needs of Australian investors. Using an exploratory sequential mixed methods research design, the thesis comprised qualitative interviews and website analysis as well as a quantitative survey. In-depth semi-structured interviews explored investors’ expectations of CSR and sustainability initiatives in the Australian gold mining industry with regard to environmental and social disclosure on corporate websites. Corporate website sections were analysed using a linguistic approach to identify online communication strategies and the companies’ stage of online disclosure. Finally, a survey was conducted to identify Australian investors’ online information needs with regard to environmental and social disclosure, and demographic, descriptive and hierarchical cluster analyses were undertaken.
Submitted in the fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, University of the Sunshine Coast, 2016.