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Does the level of assurance statement on environmental disclosure affect investor assessment? An experimental study

Géraldine Rivière-Giordano (University of Montpellier, Montpellier, France)
Sophie Giordano-Spring (University of Montpellier, Montpellier, France)
Charles H. Cho (Schulich School of Business, York University, Toronto, Canada)

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal

ISSN: 2040-8021

Article publication date: 16 July 2018

Issue publication date: 21 August 2018

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to examine whether different levels of assurance statements of environmental disclosures affect investment choices in the French context where environmental assurance was voluntary until 2012 and became regulated and mandatory since then.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors conducted an experiment during the voluntary context – which represents the vast majority of countries – on a sample of 108 financial analysts.

Findings

Environmental disclosure has a positive impact on investment recommendations. More surprisingly, financial analysts are less likely to give recommendations in favor of a company that displays environmental disclosure with low-level assurance than for a company with no assurance statement at all.

Research limitations/implications

When assurance is voluntary and there are at least two levels, this study results suggest that firms should avoid selecting the lowest level of assurance because it negatively affects investor decisions. From this perspective, firms should devote sufficient effort and resources to obtain at least Level 2 environmental disclosure assurance.

Practical implications

Given the recommendations made by financial analysts, the authors could expect that firms may prefer to engage in a higher level of assurance or to provide no assurance rather than minimize their financial efforts and resources to select a lower level of voluntary assurance regarding environmental disclosure.

Social implications

This study has implications for the voluntary assurance practices of environmental disclosure and can provide support to regulators to promote higher standards in environmental assurance. It documents the relevance to increase the level of requested assurance for environmental disclosure.

Originality/value

To the best of the authors’ knowledge, very few studies have examined the additional effect of assurance on environmental disclosure in investors’ decisions. The experiment is conducted with financial analysts in the context of voluntary assurance.

Keywords

Citation

Rivière-Giordano, G., Giordano-Spring, S. and Cho, C.H. (2018), "Does the level of assurance statement on environmental disclosure affect investor assessment? An experimental study", Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 336-360. https://doi.org/10.1108/SAMPJ-03-2018-0054

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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