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Sustainability disclosure and a legitimacy crisis. Insights from two major cruise companies

 

Selena Aureli1* , Renato Medei2 , Enrico Supino3 and Claudio Travaglini4
 

Received: 07/10/2016 Accepted: 05/04/2017

 

1University of Bologna, Department of Management and Centre for Advanced Studies in Tourism, Rimini
Campus, via Angherà, 22 – Rimini, Italy; tel: +39 0541 434230, e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
2University of Bologna, Centre for Advanced Studies in Tourism, Rimini Campus, via Angherà, 22 – Rimini,
Italy; tel: +39 0541 434086; e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
3University of Bologna, Department of Management and Centre for Advanced Studies in Tourism, Rimini
Campus, via Angherà, 22 – Rimini, Italy, tel: +39 051 2098069; e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
4University of Bologna, Department of Management and Centre for Advanced Studies in Tourism, Rimini
Campus, via Angherà, 22 – Rimini, Italy; tel: +39 0541 434111; e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
*Corresponding author

 

Abstract
 

The main aim of this paper is to analyse company sustainability disclosure in case of a legitimacy crisis. This work sets out to investigate how the negative externalities of an event reported widely in the media, such as the sinking of the Costa Concordia class cruise ship, have affected sustainability communication, for not only Carnival Corporation & PLC (the parent company of Costa) but also its most direct competitor Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. The paper relies on text analysis focusing on the sustainability reports of the two major companies (in terms of market share) in the cruise sector. Authors compared the reports of Carnival Corporation & PLC and its most direct competitor for a five-year period using text mining techniques. Results indicate that an event with social and environmental negative externalities, dominating international media and capable to bring discredit in the eyes of stakeholders, generates a change in the sustainability communication of both companies. Thus, repercussions are larger than one might suppose. Companies reduced the amount of information disclosed as a strategy to influence the perception of their audience, demonstrating that the provision of justifications, explanations and announcements of new sustainable policies (which increase the quantity of information) is not a predictable reaction. This paper undertakes empirical research on the sustainability reports of cruise line companies - which have been largely overlooked - and contributes to better understand company sustainability reporting praxis after an industrial disaster.

 

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Keywords:  Cruise lines, Sustainability reports, Text mining, Legitimacy theory, Tourism, Industrial Disaster.


Citation: Aureli, S., R. Medei, E. Supino, C. Travaglini (2017) Sustainability disclosure and a legitimacy crisis: Insights from two major cruise companies. European Journal of Tourism Research 17 pp. 149-163

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European Journal of Тourism Research