Extracting transparency: the process of regulating disclosures for the resources industry



Publication Details

Cortese, C. & Andrew, J. (2020). Extracting transparency: the process of regulating disclosures for the resources industry. Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, 33 (2), 472-495.


Purpose: Multinational resource companies (MRCs) are under pressure to become responsible corporate citizens. In particular, stakeholders are demanding more information about the deals these companies negotiate with the host governments of resource-rich nations, and there is general agreement about the need for industry commitment to transparency and the benefits that a mandatory disclosure regime would bring. This paper examines the production of one attempt to regulate disclosures related to payments between MRCs and the governments of nations with resource wealth: Section 1504 of the Dodd–Frank Act. Design/methodology/approach: Drawing on Boltanski and Thévenot's (2006) Sociology of Worth, the authors examine the comment letters of participants in this process with a view to revealing how stakeholder groups produce justifications to promote their positions vis-à-vis transparency to regulators. Findings: The authors show how justifications were mobilised by various constituents in an effort to shape the definition of transparency and the regulatory architecture that governs disclosure practices. In this case, the collective recognition of desirability of transparency enabled the SEC to suture together the views of constituents to create a shared understanding of the role of the common good as it relates to transparency. Originality/value: This paper explores an alternative approach to the consideration of comment letters advanced during the process of disclosure-related rule-making. The authors show how a sophisticated regulator may be able to draw together elements stemming from different constituents in a way that appeals to a shared sense of the “common good” in order to produce Final Rules.

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