Report users' perceptions of environmental performance : a preliminary investigation
conference contributionposted on 2017-12-06, 00:00 authored by Stacey Cowan, Nicola MccoshNicola Mccosh
This paper reports on a preliminary investigation into speculations raised by researchers regarding the potentially misleading quality of voluntary environmental disclosures in company annual reports to users. Twenty-five subjects used extracts of annual report voluntary environmental disclosures to rate the environmental performance of ten Australian companies. Subject ratings were then statistically compared with an environmental performance measure. Significant differences were identified between subject perceptions of performance and actual performance for nine of the ten companies examined. Subjects demonstrated a propensity to evaluate environmental performance higher than actual performance with the majority of subjects rating companies within “good” categories although nine companies had actual performance ratings corresponding with “bad” categories. The findings suggest that industry claims regarding the success of the voluntary disclosure system – claims relied upon, in part, by government in decisions to maintain a predominantly voluntary disclosure approach - may be questionable, particularly for annual report users.