Title

Non-financial performance disclosure by Australian listed companies

Date of Award

2017

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Business and Law

First Advisor

Associate Professor Hadrian Geri Djajadikerta

Second Advisor

Dr Zubaidah Ismail

Field of Research Code

1 5 0 1 0 6

Abstract

This study examines the non-financial performance disclosure practices of 200 of the largest ASX-listed companies. It uses content analysis to investigate the relationships between company financial performance and company characteristics, and the extent of non-financial performance disclosure, in terms of quantity and quality, in annual and sustainability reports from 2014. This study developed a new scoring index based on Balanced Scorecard (BSC) principles and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance, to evaluate the extent of the companies’ sustainability disclosures. The new scoring index, named the Non-Financial Performance Disclosure (NFPD) Index, measures companies’ performances and their ESG frameworks. The index consists of six perspectives: customer, internal business process, learning and growth, environmental, social, and governance. The study used the index as a benchmark or disclosure checklist to collect data from companies’ annual and sustainability reports. A pilot study was undertaken to test the NFPD Index before employing it in the main study. The content analysis outcomes show that the overall average level of non-financial performance disclosure, in terms of quantity, is 36.9%. Among the six disclosure perspectives, governance is the most commonly-reported (51.20%), followed by internal business process (40.27%), customer (38.00%), environmental (36.59%), learning and growth (25.69%), and social (30.67%). Meanwhile, in terms of quality, the overall average level of non-financial performance disclosure is 53.33%. The governance perspective is still the most commonly-disclosed (64.44%), followed by internal business process (60.43%), customer (58.72%), environmental (52.43%), learning and growth (48.20%), and social (30.67%). These results indicate that companies disclose more information from a governance perspective in their annual and sustainability reports than from any other perspective, in terms of both quantity and quality. The study found positive associations between company financial performance (return on assets, return on equity, and earnings per share), company characteristics (company type, company size, and company age), auditing firm, and the extent of non-financial performance disclosure. All but one of the hypotheses in this study have been accepted. More specifically, the statistical analysis indicates that return on equity, earnings per share, company type, company size, company age, and auditing firm positively influence the quantity and quality of non-financial performance disclosure. However, the results showed no relationship between return on assets and non-financial performance disclosure in terms of either quantity or quality. Stakeholder and legitimacy theories were used in this study, to clarify specific areas of corporate social responsibility practices in Australia. Overall, by using the six perspectives of non-financial performance disclosure to study the 200 largest companies in Australia, this research has contributed new information to corporate social disclosure studies focused on non-financial performance disclosure, which should motivate companies to produce and disclose annual and sustainability reports that are more comprehensive and highly credible.

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