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Determinants of social and economic reportings: Evidence from Australia, the UK and South African multinational enterprises

Omar Al Farooque (UNE Business School, University of New England , Armidale, Australia)
Helena Ahulu (Department of Accounting, University of Professional Studies , Accra, Ghana)

International Journal of Accounting & Information Management

ISSN: 1834-7649

Article publication date: 2 May 2017

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to provide new insights on the determinants of social and economic sustainability reportings of multinational enterprises (MNEs) in three Anglo-Saxon countries, mainly Australia, the UK and South Africa, from the perspective of corporate governance, stakeholder and corporate legitimacy.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper examines stand-alone sustainability reports of 67 large MNEs from three countries available in the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) website for the period of 2008-2009. It undertakes two distinct methodological approaches: first, principal component analysis (PCA) of GRI guidelines (G3) on social and economic indicators to identify the most appropriate dependent variables, and second, hierarchical multiple regression for the hypotheses testing and finding determinants of respective dependent variables on social and economic reportings.

Findings

The results from the PCA of GRI guidelines (G3) provide an alternative way of categorizing the social and economic indicators when compared to the categories given by the GRI. Again, the results from hierarchical multiple regression indicate the industry sector as the dominant determinant of social and economic reportings. In particular, the positive, significant association of board independence, assurance and employee performance variables with economic reporting confirms the significant roles of corporate governance, stakeholders and corporate legitimacy in determining economic reporting. The findings also suggest the complementary nature of relevant theories in corporate voluntary disclosures relating to economic performance. However, social reporting shows no such relations, which rather relies more on firm-specific/financial variables of MNEs including firm size and age.

Research limitations/implications

The sample of this study is limited to two-year periods and large MNEs available in the GRI website with stand-alone sustainability reports only.

Practical implications

The PCA focuses on most relevant and specific categories of social and economic reportings as opposed to GRI generic categories. The PCA findings also suggest the GRI to contemplate reducing the social and economic indicators for future guidelines. The hierarchical multiple regression results highlight specific areas of emphasis that MNEs should focus on when reporting social and economic information.

Originality/value

This study adds value to the existing literature on GRI-based social and economic reportings as well as the complementary nature of corporate governance, stakeholders and corporate legitimacy perspectives.

Keywords

Citation

Al Farooque, O. and Ahulu, H. (2017), "Determinants of social and economic reportings: Evidence from Australia, the UK and South African multinational enterprises", International Journal of Accounting & Information Management, Vol. 25 No. 2, pp. 177-200. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJAIM-01-2016-0003

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited