Sustainability disclosure practices as seen through the lens of the signaling theory: A study of companies listed on the Colombian Stock Exchange Academic Article


  • Journal of Cleaner Production


  • Companies have a particularly important role to play in achieving sustainable development, yet to do this they must transparently communicating their performance. The purpose of this study is to analyze the Sustainability Disclosure Practices of companies listed on the Colombian Stock Exchange by applying Signaling Theory dimensions - intent, necessity and camouflage - to the different economic sectors. A qualitative study was performed that involved examining the sustainability reports of 43 companies in 2018 by applying different content analysis techniques. The results show that industrial companies frequently 1) report their environmental practices, especially emissions management; 2) report economic practices exclusively in relation to their economic performance; and 3) report social practices that are focused on the development of their internal stakeholders. In this study, the most recurrently observed signal is intent, rather than necessity or camouflage. This research further contributes to extant literature by showing that camouflage signals can be categorized into two types: 1) those whereby organizations hide information and 2) those whereby organizations seek to highlight their attributes and achievements. The latter are not contemplated in Connelly's original proposal but were clearly found in this research.

publication date

  • 2021-10-1


  • 317

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0959-6526

number of pages

  • 10

start page

  • 1

end page

  • 9