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Article
Publication date: 4 December 2023

Marta Sánchez-Sancho, Jennifer Martínez-Ferrero and Javier Perote-Peña

This paper aims to investigate the potential influence of managers on sustainability assurance. When the quality of sustainability reporting is questionable because of subsequent…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to investigate the potential influence of managers on sustainability assurance. When the quality of sustainability reporting is questionable because of subsequent restatements, the authors explore whether assurance is used to enhance its credibility as a legitimization tool or as an impression management strategy. Additionally, the authors analyze how capital markets react to this potential managerial capture and, particularly, whether investors penalize this practice through the cost of capital.

Design/methodology/approach

Using an international sample from 2012 to 2016 and panel data regressions, this study relies on DICTION’s master variables of optimism and certainty to examine the impact of managers on assurance and the market’s reaction to these practices.

Findings

The study shows that some managers might use assurance as a legitimization tool rather than as a means of reinforcing the credibility of sustainability reporting. In such cases, the results reveal that investors penalize (reward) managerial influence (no influence) on assurance.

Practical implications

The new findings help companies understand that they will not improve their financing terms if investors perceive that managers have influenced assurance. Moreover, these findings emphasize the need for standardization to clarify assurance criteria and prevent managerial influence.

Social implications

Managerial influence on assurance raises doubts about its value in terms of reducing information asymmetry and especially improving investors’ decision-making.

Originality/value

The present study represents the first evidence of the potential use of assurance for non-informative purposes. The authors provide clear evidence of how investors penalize managerial influence on assurance, in contrast to the mainstream literature, which shows that this practice always improves investors’ decision-making and is rewarded.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 15 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 13 October 2023

Yuan Jiang, Emma García-Meca and Jennifer Martinez-Ferrero

Sustainability development goals (SDGs) cannot be achieved without a concerted effort from businesses and other organisations, being the corporate level is one of the keys to the…

Abstract

Purpose

Sustainability development goals (SDGs) cannot be achieved without a concerted effort from businesses and other organisations, being the corporate level is one of the keys to the achievement of SDGs. This study aims to explore the relationship between firms' adoption of SDG reporting in China and two main corporate-level factors, namely, board characteristics and ownership factors. Also, this study aims to determine which set of drivers – those related to board or ownership factors – exerts a greater influence on this reporting.

Design/methodology/approach

This research examines the impact of ownership and board-level factors on the SDG reporting of Chinese firms in the period 2016–2018, with a final sample of 455 firm-year observations operating in 11 activity sectors.

Findings

The results support the following: firstly, that board independence and size and the existence of a corporate social responsibility (CSR) committee favours firms addressing SDGs in their sustainability reporting while greater levels of foreign or institutional ownership are negatively related to a company's adoption of SDG reporting; secondly, two-stage logit regression results revealed that board-level factors exert greater explanatory power in the prediction of this reporting and have bigger weights in affecting the SDGs reporting.

Practical implications

This study focuses on assessing the drivers of SDGs; namely, what internal factors will facilitate companies' better implementation of SDG reporting to bridge the gap in this field, not only extending the investigation of corporate governance factors affecting SDGs but also examining the impact of corporate ownership on SDG reporting.

Originality/value

This study enriches and provides support for previous studies examining the drivers of SDGs in the private sector. In academia, addressing SDGs in business is still an emerging research stream that is still in an embryonic state; the reporting of SDGs in business is quite under-investigated in the sustainability literature. Moreover, literature on the drivers that promote better implementation of SDGs in business is even more scarce and incomplete. Some previous studies have ignored the impact of board size and the CSR committee. At the same time, there is no research to date on the impact of ownership on companies' SDGs reporting, which has been proved to play a large role in firms sustainability reporting.

Details

Management Decision, vol. 61 no. 12
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0025-1747

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 5 September 2022

Emiliano Ruiz-Barbadillo and Jennifer Martinez-Ferrero

This paper aims to examine the communicative value of assurance reports by investigating whether the impact on information asymmetries is contingent on the length of the…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine the communicative value of assurance reports by investigating whether the impact on information asymmetries is contingent on the length of the contractual relationship between clients and assurance providers, which can compromise the provider’s independence.

Design/methodology/approach

Using a firm-level data set of publicly listed international firms from 2007 to 2016, the authors estimate several regression models for panel data by using the generalized method of moments estimator to address the endogeneity issue.

Findings

Results find that the greater the communicative value in assurance statements, the lower the information asymmetries. However, this effect is constrained when the assurance provider’s independence is compromised due to an excessively long-term contractual relationship. In other words, assurance statements with more informative value enhance the firm’s transparency and increase users’ confidence in the sustainability information provided. However, the loss of independence linked to longer tenure jeopardizes the communicative value of the assurance report and contributes to reducing information asymmetries.

Originality/value

The study makes at least three clear contributions to current literature. First, the authors contribute to the limited existing research about the communicative value attributed to assurance statements by stakeholders. Second, the authors indirectly contribute to the literature that analyses whether stakeholders understand the assurance report, a complex statement in a growing market. Addressing the communicative value of assurance is certainly a difficult task, as it is a novel and complex activity. Third, the main contribution is providing initial empirical evidence about the moderating effect that assurance provider tenure has in the relationship between the informational content of the assurance report and the level of information asymmetries. To date, there is no empirical evidence regarding the moderating effect of long assuror’s tenure as an important feature of the assurance market, and beyond that, regarding its impact on the communicative value assigned by stakeholders to assurance statements.

Details

Meditari Accountancy Research, vol. 31 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-372X

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 25 October 2021

Emiliano Ruiz-Barbadillo and Jennifer Martínez-Ferrero

Sustainability assurance services are carried out in a competitive market where a wide range of assurance providers operate without the need for any specific professional…

1730

Abstract

Purpose

Sustainability assurance services are carried out in a competitive market where a wide range of assurance providers operate without the need for any specific professional qualifications, competencies or skills. Assurance providers have heterogeneous professional backgrounds and experiences that lead to substantial diversity in sustainability assurance quality levels. This paper aims to provide an understanding of sustainability assurance quality. From a legitimacy perspective, the authors focus on the choice of assurance providers by exploring why a company voluntarily chooses an incumbent financial auditor to jointly provide audit and sustainability assurance services. The authors argue that to avoid the legitimacy threats undermining stakeholders’ confidence in the sustainability information disclosed, companies should only choose their incumbent financial auditors to provide sustainability assurance services when these auditors possess the professional attributes associated with sustainability assurance quality.

Design/methodology/approach

This study develops regression models for an international sample for 2007–2016, where the authors analyze why a company voluntarily chooses an incumbent auditor to jointly provide audit and sustainability assurance services from a legitimacy theory perspective.

Findings

Evidence confirms that the choice of incumbent auditors as assurance providers is more likely when these providers are more specialized in the industry. The authors also find that independence does not play a significant role in this decision. Therefore, an assurance provider’s industry specialization can be understood as an attribute that is associated with sustainability assurance quality and one which limits the legitimacy threats caused by a lack of sufficient sustainability knowledge.

Practical implications

Given that companies have complete freedom when choosing their assurance providers, the selection of a high-quality incumbent auditor is an indirect measure of social commitment and a mechanism to improve public trust. The results confirm that it is fundamental for firms to understand the situations when choosing an incumbent financial auditor to provide sustainability assurance services is the best way to ensure firm legitimacy while obtaining higher sustainability assurance quality due to the spillover effect. This paper provides useful evidence for firms and managers who can become aware that the legitimacy threat associated with the auditing profession’s questionable competence to conduct efficient sustainability assurance engagements can be reduced if they hire an incumbent financial auditor with greater industry specialization. For assurance providers, the results are especially useful, as they should know that companies will be more likely to choose their incumbent financial auditor when that auditor possesses certain professional attributes, like industry specialization. The ability to assimilate and exploit the knowledge gained through auditing activities can be improved even more by specialization, which enhances sustainability assurance quality.

Social implications

From a social perspective, stakeholders perceive industry specialization as an indicator of the professional skills necessary to increase both the real and perceived quality of sustainability assurance services, thereby limiting the legitimacy threat arising from a lack of sustainability knowledge. The evidence also provides valuable results for regulatory bodies, as it shows that firms are not able to address the legitimacy gap caused by stakeholders’ perceptions that incumbent financial auditors can easily be controlled by companies. Thus, doubts arise as to whether this joint provision undermines auditor independence. Precisely, these doubts about assurance provider independence can erode public confidence in assurance and devalue the quality of the service. The results of this paper highlight the need to strengthen regulation on sustainability reporting and assurance. The advances and relevance of sustainable development in recent years and in future agendas require a firm commitment to sustainability reporting and assurance of quality, reliability, integrity and confidence.

Originality/value

First, this study contributes to recent empirical studies that focus on the role of sustainability assurance services in the legitimation process of corporate sustainability reporting. However, while that research analyzes how the legitimacy theory explains the voluntary adoption of sustainability assurance, this paper adds to the literature by presenting evidence about why certain incumbent auditors are appointed to carry out sustainability assurance services. Second, this paper contributes to the sustainability assurance quality literature. Third, unlike previous studies that have regressed various client-specific and institutional factors that influence firms’ decisions to choose assurance providers, this study contributes to the research by providing knowledge about a set of professional features that may explain the decision model of assurance providers selection from a legitimacy perspective.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 13 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 14 May 2018

Oscar Villarón-Peramato, Isabel-María García-Sánchez and Jennifer Martínez-Ferrero

This paper aims to analyse the use of level of debt as an external control mechanism against an entrenchment strategy based on corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to analyse the use of level of debt as an external control mechanism against an entrenchment strategy based on corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors use a database of 1,916 international companies for the years 2002 to 2010.

Findings

The evidence obtained confirms in a context of asymmetric information, bounded rationality and divergent interests, the use of debt as a control mechanism of managers’ discretionary comportment. In other words, CSR practices can be used by managers as an entrenchment strategy and self-defence with the aim of decreasing the possibility of being identified by those shareholders and stakeholders whose interests have been damaged. In this context, the market demands higher debt levels to solve agency frictions, playing an active role in monitoring the management. Moreover, the demand of higher debt as a control mechanism that minimises the expropriation risk by managers through CSR is lower in contexts of greater investor protection.

Originality/value

The findings reveal that CSR engagement can be explained by the hypothesis of being a strategy of entrenchment and self-defence. Overall, this study differs from previous literature in this field by taking an alternative approach to CSR practices, in contrast to the conventional wisdom of the benefits of CSR practices. The authors contribute by empirically testing the theoretical model proposed by Cespa and Cestone (2007) who suggest the discretionary use of CSR from an agency perspective. They also give empirical relief showing the use of CSR as an entrenchment strategy. Moreover, they demonstrate that the capital market of debt decreases in a context with a greater degree of investor protection, likewise under CSR promoted as an entrenchment tool, the demand for debt as a disciplinary mechanism is less necessary to control managers. In addition, the study is enriched by the database analysis.

Details

European Business Review, vol. 30 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0955-534X

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 7 February 2020

Nese Colakoglu, Mehmet Eryilmaz and Jennifer Martínez-Ferrero

This study aims to understand whether board diversity has a direct effect on “corporate social responsibility (CSR)” performance of companies or not. In addition, this study also…

1242

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to understand whether board diversity has a direct effect on “corporate social responsibility (CSR)” performance of companies or not. In addition, this study also aims to examine the moderation effect of age and education level of female board members on the relationship between board gender diversity and CSR performance.

Design/methodology/approach

A “corporate social performance (CSP)” measurement instrument was designed to conduct a content analysis that analyzes the CSR disclosure in the annual reports of Turkish companies listed on the “500 biggest Turkish companies” report of “Istanbul Chamber of Industry (ISO)” in 2015. The data coming from content analysis of 117 company reports were analyzed by using hierarchical regression analysis.

Findings

Despite of supporting the increase in CSR performance when there is a greater presence of independent board members in an organization, evidence supports that ratios of female and foreign board members do not have any significant effect on CSR performance.

Originality/value

The study contributes to previous literature on board diversity and CSR performance as follows. First, this paper contributes to previous literature by examining and testing independent, female and foreign board members as a new antecedent of CSR performance in research on Turkey; second, by examining a sample of the “500 biggest Turkish companies” and providing some tips about both Turkey and other developing countries; third, by reopening the debate about the positive impact of a greater presence of independent directors on board on CSR performance and the non-effect of female and foreign board members. Finally, it also offers a partially new CSP measurement instrument based on content analysis.

Details

Social Responsibility Journal, vol. 17 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1747-1117

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 29 June 2017

Jennifer Martinez-Ferrero, Lázaro Rodríguez-Ariza and Isabel María García-Sánchez

The purpose of this paper is to analyze how family ownership influences the strength of the board’s monitoring function in companies’ decisions regarding the assurance of…

1079

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyze how family ownership influences the strength of the board’s monitoring function in companies’ decisions regarding the assurance of sustainability reports.

Design/methodology/approach

The international sample consists of 536 companies operating in more stakeholder-oriented countries during the period 2007-2014. The paper proposes alternative logit models of analysis using the random-effects estimator.

Findings

The results provide evidence that a firm’s sustainability assurance and its choice of accounting professionals as higher quality assurers are positively associated with board size and independence. The main result is the positive impact of family businesses on these assurance issues. The paper evidences the greater orientation toward sustainability issues of family businesses. Furthermore, it verifies the greater impact of board size on family firms’ assurance demand.

Originality/value

This study sheds some light on the unexplored topic of sustainability assurance in family firms. One of the differentiating aspects with respect to previous studies is the consideration of the moderating factor of family property. This study also contributes to the understanding of family firms’ demand for assurance and its practitioners, and the literature’s focus on its determinants.

Details

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, vol. 24 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1462-6004

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 20 March 2017

Isabel-Maria García-Sánchez, Jennifer Martínez-Ferrero and Emma García-Meca

The purpose of this paper is to analyze whether gender diversity on board and financial expertise on audit committee affect accounting conservatism in banking sector…

5385

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyze whether gender diversity on board and financial expertise on audit committee affect accounting conservatism in banking sector. Additionally, the authors focus on the effects of board characteristics on bank earnings quality and examine their effects on earnings persistence.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors use a large sample of 159 banks from nine different countries from the period 2004-2010. The authors study whether the differences in the timeliness of earnings to bad news and earnings quality across governance structures of banks are driven by differences across investor protection and bank regulation levels in banks.

Findings

The findings confirm the monitoring role of both female and financial experts, noting a positive effect of them on accounting conservatism and earnings quality in banks. According to the institutional characteristics, the results suggest the complementary role of banking regulation and investor protection levels in these effects, noting that in contexts of higher regulatory and greater investor protection environments, gender diversity and financial expertise on boards have more influence on the conservatism and earnings quality of banks.

Originality/value

The authors contribute to both the accounting quality literature and the corporate governance literature by identifying board characteristics that are associated with higher conservatism and quality of earnings in banks around the world. In addition, this study also contributes to the ethics literature by highlighting the benefits of gender diversity and financial expertise in upholding the integrity of financial reporting. Moreover, this paper adds to prior literature about board of directors and accounting quality by identifying additional complementary factors – bank regulation and investor protection – and by focusing on a specific industry, the banking industry.

Details

Management Decision, vol. 55 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0025-1747

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 7 November 2016

Lázaro Rodriguez-Ariza, Jennifer Martínez-Ferrero and Manuel Bermejo-Sánchez

Based on earnings management (EM) practices, the purpose of this research is to analyze their market social consequences on corporate reputation. Moreover, this paper illustrates…

2688

Abstract

Purpose

Based on earnings management (EM) practices, the purpose of this research is to analyze their market social consequences on corporate reputation. Moreover, this paper illustrates this impact in the context of family firms which are led and controlled by family members, whose main interest is the long-run survival through succession.

Design/methodology/approach

A sample comprising 1,169 international listed companies for the period 2006-2010 was used.

Findings

The empirical evidence shows the negative impact of these discretionary accounting practices on corporate image. However, family firms have more incentives for controlling and monitoring managerial decisions, avoiding information asymmetries and, thus, EM behavior and their subsequent loss of reputation. Therefore, fewer negative effects on corporate reputation are observed in highly concentrated ownership structures as a result of the negative link between family control and EM.

Originality/value

This study presents a number of contributions because of its focus on specific discretionary practices and on family firms. This study contributes to previous literature on family firms, as previous papers do not tend to focus on EM issues. Moreover, in contrast to most of the studies that have focused on only one country, we use an international panel database. This leads to potentially more powerful and generalized results. In addition, this paper is the first attempt (to the authors' knowledge) to study the possible impact of EM on corporate reputation in the family firm context.

Details

Accounting Research Journal, vol. 29 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1030-9616

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 23 November 2021

Saleh F.A. Khatib, Dewi Fariha Abdullah, Ahmed Elamer, Ibrahim Suleiman Yahaya and Andrews Owusu

This study aims to identify the main research development on board diversity and offers a quantitative synopsis of key themes and contributors, knowledge gaps and provides…

1709

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to identify the main research development on board diversity and offers a quantitative synopsis of key themes and contributors, knowledge gaps and provides directions for further work.

Design/methodology/approach

Using a bibliometric analysis, the authors assess the patterns in global board diversity research based on co-occurrences of researchers’ keywords and publication outputs of 991 articles from the Scopus database. Also, the co-citation network analysis was performed to assess the intellectual structure of board diversity research.

Findings

According to the keyword analysis, the authors found that researchers focus on the gender diversity of the boardroom while ignoring the cognitive diversity and other aspects of demographic diversity such as educational, ethnic, age, nationality, experience, background and tenure, pointing to the need for further work to consider other diversity attributes and the interaction between them. Additionally, board diversity research related to (but not limited to) payout policy, cash holding, initial public offerings, small–medium enterprises and financial institutions is limited.

Originality/value

This study provides a comprehensive evaluation of the development of board diversity research (using a large archival database) and identifies the common construct as well as the potential opportunities for future research directions.

Details

Meditari Accountancy Research, vol. 31 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-372X

Keywords

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