Year

2018

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School of Accounting, Economics and Finance

Abstract

Increasingly awareness of corporate activity in developing and less developed economies has come under public scrutiny in terms of corporate voluntary disclosure and firm performance. Shareholders and a range of other stakeholders rely on the transparency afforded by corporate public disclosures and the governance mechanisms that ensure accountability. Therefore, studies in voluntary disclosure and firm performance that combine elements of corporate governance and shareholder and stakeholder perspectives provide insights for regulators, especially in developing economies competing in a global market. Accordingly, this study examines the determinants and effects of voluntary disclosures within Bangladesh after a severe share market crash in 2010. Despite being one of the poorest countries, Bangladesh has significant opportunities for companies in the future as an emerging economy experiencing significant economic development. Therefore, regulators are interested in how to improve corporate governance to ensure transparency and promote investment.

To understand voluntary corporate disclosure practices, three significant categories ‒ social, environmental and intellectual capital ‒ are used as a proxy for CSR and transparency. To accommodate a diverse range of stakeholders, the framework developed by An et al. (2011) is adapted for the Bangladeshi context as it combines agency, legitimacy and signalling theories. The investigation is conducted in two stages. First, important indicators of corporate governance are identified from the extant literature to determine the effects on the level of voluntary corporate disclosures. Second, the effect of these disclosures on firm performance is determined. The study is conducted by examining the top 200 listed firms on the Dhaka Stock Exchange for the years 2011 to 2013. To accommodate the lag in firm performance the data set is extended to 2014. This panel data is subjected to statistical analysis including Ordinary Least Square and Two Stage Least Square. Robustness tests are also applied throughout.

The findings determine that the presence of a sub-committee, audit committee composition and foreign ownership have a significant positive relationship with voluntary corporate disclosure; on the other hand, CEO duality and director ownership is significantly negatively associated. In relation to firm performance, voluntary disclosure has a significant positive effect on return on assets, market capitalization, earnings per share and Tobin’s Q.

While limited to the top 200 listed firms, the findings provide insights into how corporate governance characteristics moderate and ensure transparency by considering discretionary disclosures related to social, environmental and intellectual capital aspects to facilitate development of future corporate governance guidelines. It further indicates that voluntary disclosure can improve firm performance in Bangladesh. This offers an incentive to the firm to ensure greater transparency through voluntary disclosure.

This study makes a further contribution to the ongoing debate regarding a more integrative approach by utilizing a combined theoretical framework dedicated to a developing country context and a diverse range of stakeholders.

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