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Title: Assessing the measurement of quality of corporate environmental reporting
Author: Ekara Helfaya, Akrum Nasr
ISNI:       0000 0004 2726 1884
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2012
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An increasing number of companies are reporting their environmental performance, impacts, and activities. The objectives of such reports are many including, in particular, reacting to external pressures from company stakeholders demanding more information about environmental performance. This might also be matched by management requiring information to better run the business - hence an internal requirement for information that would then be available for publication. Because, this environmental reporting serves multiple objectives and satisfies different needs of different readers, it varies in the type of information provided, the scope and depth of material disclosed, presentation formats used, the credibility of the information provided and its overall quality. Although richness of report content, scope of topics covered, presentation and credibility of this content have all been used to assess the quality of corporate environmental reporting (CER), to date most prior studies have looked simply at the volume of and/or the types of information when assessing the quality of CER. Studies have used two main indices to measure disclosure quality; subjective analysts' indices and semi-objective indices. Subjective indices such as the Association of Investment Management and Research (AIMR), formerly the Financial Analysts Federation (FAF) disclosure ratings, are built on corporate disclosures' ratings weighted by a panel of leading analysts in each industry. In semi-objective indices, on the other hand, a pre-determined list of items (topics of disclosure) is developed and tested for their presence (absence ) and/or the richness of their content. It is noted that most disclosure studies adopt this second approach in the form of disclosure index studies, a partial type of content analysis. Other disclosure measures have included textual analysis such as thematic content analysis, readability studies, and linguistic analysis. However, there is no consensus about the best measure for assessing reporting quality. One of the most important limitations encountered in the disclosure literature is the difficulty in assessing the quality of disclosure (Healy and Palepu, 2001; Urquiza et al., 2009). For example, these studies identify three key limitations. Firstly, there is inherent subjectivity involved in the selection of the quality measure and in the coding scheme to assess this 'quality' generally researchers choose their own methods or proxies. Secondly, there is an ignorance of the quality perceptions of preparers and users of corporate disclosure. Hammond and Miles (2004) argue that we cannot assess the quality of disclosure independently of a detailed understanding of users' need of disclosure. Thirdly, it has been common to use annual reports (ARs) to assess the extent and quality of corporate responsibility disclosure, ignoring the other reporting media such as corporate responsibility reports (CRRs), websites, home advertisings, etc (Forst et al., 2005; KPMG, 2011). Thus considering the fact that robust, reliable, and replicable quality assessment is problematic, the objectives of this research are threefold. Firstly, to build a more representative quality model based on the findings of a questionnaire ascertaining the views of both preparers and distinct categories of readers of ARs and/or CRRs. Secondly, to apply this model to FTSE 100 CER in both ARs and CRRs to ascertain whether the proxies frequently used in prior literature yield similar results to those derived from this more complex model. Thirdly, to investigate whether the common use of ARs, rather than more detailed CRRs in assessing CER quality is giving a misleading picture of the level and richness of disclosure available to stakeholders.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Corporation reports ; Sustainable development reporting ; Business planning ; Environmental management