Quality versus volume of carbon disclosures and carbon reduction targets: Evidence from UK higher education institutions
Pacific Accounting Review
School of Business and Law
Purpose: This study aims to investigate the relationship between the quality and volume of carbon emission disclosures (CED) in UK higher educational institutions (HEIs), with an emphasis on the impact of the Higher Education Funding Council of England (HEFCE) carbon reduction target on such disclosures.
Design/methodology/approach: Based on stewardship theory, this study explores the decision usefulness of the CED by HEIs, i.e. whether a larger volume of CED means that it is more useful to readers and stakeholders. A framework was developed to measure the CED quality. The relationships between CED volume and quality were examined using the ordered probit regression model.
Findings: CED volume in annual reports and HEFCE carbon reduction target were found to have a significant positive impact on CED quality. There exists a void in research with carbon disclosures by HEIs, an area which has been widely researched with regard to profit-seeking organisations. The study adds to the earlier related studies by its contribution about HEIs to the disclosure literature.
Research limitations/implications: The study is distinct in investigating the relationship between volume and quality of CED by HEIs. However, the impact of CED would need to be clear to motivate the HEIs to engage in such disclosure. Thus, future studies should investigate the impact of both volume and quality of CED on reputation.
Originality/value: The study recognises that the characteristics of HEIs are distinct from profit-seeking organisations, which have been widely researched in literature. Generalising the research studies on profit-oriented companies for the most publicly funded UK HEIs may mislead any outcome. This study is distinct from the reader’s point of view in exploring whether more CED is more useful in better decision-making.