Year

2012

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School of Accounting and Finance

Abstract

Given the increased social and environmental problems in China, this thesis is to undertake a study of social and environmental disclosure practices of socially responsible Chinese listed firms. Conducted in three parts, this thesis first explores the current status of social and environment disclosure practices of the firms studied that sets the background to the other two core research questions. Secondly, this thesis empirically examines the relationship between corporate social and environmental disclosure and various influencing factors (i.e. stakeholders power and corporate characteristics). Thirdly, this thesis empirically examines the link between corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting (i.e. publishing a CSR report and the quality of the CSR report) and socially responsible reputation of the firms studied.

The sample of firms chosen for this study is drawn from a social responsibility ranking list of Chinese listed firms. A social and environmental disclosure index (SEDI) based on the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Sustainability Reporting Guidelines (G3 version) is constructed to assess firms’ social and environmental disclosure in their annual reports and CSR reports. This index comprises three dimensions: the quantity measure, the quality measure relating to disclosure types, and the quality measure relating to GRI disclosure items. The quantity dimension of the index is approached by using content analysis to collect the data about the frequency of 121 GRI disclosure items from firms’ annual reports and CSR reports. The quality dimension relating to disclosure types is approached by conducting a questionnaire survey to collect the data about stakeholders’ perceptions on the preference of different disclosure types identified from the literature. The quality dimension relating to disclosure items is approached by conducting a stakeholder panel consultation to ascertain stakeholders’ perceptions on the relative importance of 121 GRI disclosure items. The model-testing method is then used with relevant statistical techniques to examine the relationship between stakeholder-relevant social and environmental disclosure (SEDI) and various influencing factors identified in this study. Similarly, an empirical model is also designed to examine the link between CSR reporting (publishing a CSR report and the quality of the CSR report) and firms’ socially responsible reputation.

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