Manipulating Disclosure to Repair Corporate Image After an Environmental Disaster: A Study of the Impact of the Dam Failure on Samarco’s Sustainability Reports
The objective of this paper is to analyze how Sustainability Reports (SR) are strategically manipulated after the occurrence of an environmental accident, aiming at neutralizing damages and repairing the company’s image. This is a qualitative study, having collected data through a documental research technique, from consultations with the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources IBAMA’s reports, news published in the press, and SR published by Samarco S. A., involved in a major environmental disaster that occurred in November 2015. The analysis of the environmental disclosure of texts and images exposed the contradictions and inconsistency of the SRs in relation to the reports from official agencies and the news published in the media. We found that the environmental accident severely impacted the company’s environmental disclosure, modifying reporting patterns based on deterrence strategies with a view to omitting, and at the same time repairing the objective reality. Thus, the company resorted to defensive arguments through which it sought to evade responsibility, with the manipulation of negative environmental disclosure, in order to divert the outside public’s attention from adverse information.