The main thrust of this paper is to assess the level of disclosure in the annual reports of non‐financial Saudi firms and to empirically investigate the hypothesized impact of several firm characteristics on the extent of voluntary disclosure.
A disclosure checklist consisting of 20 voluntary items was developed to assess the level of disclosure in the 2003 annual reports of 40 firms, forming approximately 56 percent of the total firms incorporated in Saudi Arabia. The association between the level of disclosure and some firm characteristics was examined using multiple linear regression analysis.
The results show that the mean of the disclosure index was lower than average. Also, it was found that firm size was significantly positively associated with the level of disclosure. The remaining variables, however, were found to be insignificant in explaining the variation of voluntary disclosure.
There are, however, several limitations in the study. First, the study focused on 20 selected disclosure items. Second, the choice of the items, however, does not reflect their level of importance as perceived by financial information users. Third, the unweighted or binary approach was implemented to measure the level of disclosure. With these caveats in mind, much caution should be exercised when interpreting the results.
The outcome of this study is undoubtedly of great concern to the investment community at large to assist in evaluating the extent of voluntary disclosure by Saudi firms and explaining the variation of disclosure in light of firm‐specific characteristics. This study is deemed to add to the current extremely limited literature relating to accounting and reporting practices in developing countries in general and the Middle East in particular.
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