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An Examination of Australian voluntary environmental disclosure literature: The speculations
conference contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by N McKernan, Stacey Cowan
Over the past few decades there has been a notable increase in the provision of voluntary environmental disclosures in company annual reports. Consequently, extensive research has been conducted on the phenomena of voluntary environmental disclosures in Australia. This research has considered several issues such as the quality and quantity of disclosures; the timing of disclosures; interest groups perceptions of disclosures and managers’ perceptions of the usefulness of these disclosures. The motivations for including such disclosures in the company annual report have also been considered within various theoretical perspectives. As a consequence of the findings of this research, a number of speculations have been made in regards to the implications of voluntary environmental disclosures upon users of annual reports. Several authors have subsequently questioned the materiality, usefulness, objectivity and credibility of these disclosures, and the potential impact on users. Furthermore, and possibly as a consequence, in part, of the findings of such research, an important environmental disclosure requirement was introduced by the Australian Government. However, while researchers have speculated on the potential impact on users, no empirical research has examined the actual impact of voluntary environmental disclosures on users’ perceptions of the environmental performance of Australian companies. This paper provides an overview of the Australian voluntary environmental disclosure literature and identifies an important area which, to date, has been overlooked.