“I know something you don’t know”: Analysis of perceptions of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Reporting in the Canadian Oil and Gas Industry through signaling, dramaturgy, and reception theories

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Rino, Antonio
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Mount Saint Vincent University
Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Reporting in the Canadian Oil and Gas Industry is a relatively new way of reporting Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), with a key focus on appealing to investors. While there is a great deal of scholarly research on CSR and environmental and issues, there is very little qualitative data on public and industry perceptions of ESG reporting, particularly in the Canadian Oil and Gas Industry. The purpose of this research is to address this lack of qualitative data through interviews with industry personnel and non-industry publics about their perceptions of ESG reporting and to understand how these actors perceive ESG communications. Interviews took place in early 2021, during COVID-19 lockdowns and depressed market conditions for Canada’s Oil and Gas Industry. Data was collected using grounded theory and is analyzed using my “I know something you don’t know” (IKSYDK) framework that is based on signaling theory (Spence, 2002), dramaturgical theory (Goffman, 1956), and reception theory (Hall, 1973). Although these interviews represent a snapshot in time, the data revealed conflicting views on the Oil and Gas Industry’s perception of public opinion, insights on how social media can be used to communicate ESG effectively, and unilateral agreement that ESG reporting is incomplete for picking and choosing only the good data and not sharing the bad. Interviewees also concurred that – due to the undeniable threat of climate change caused by fossil fuels – the Oil and Gas Industry is in sunset, and that ESG reporting can provide valued accountability if created more inclusively for investor and non-investor audiences.
Canadian oil and gas, reception theory, environmental social, and governance reporting