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Issues in Social and Environmental AccountingVol. 2, No. 2 Dec 2008/Jan 2009Pp. 198-210 Social and Environmental Disclosure in the Annual Reports of Jordanian Companies Ku Nor Izah Ku Ismail Abdul Hadi Ibrahim College of Business Universiti Utara MalaysiaAbstractRecently, much attention has been devoted by researchers to study social and environmentaldisclosure among corporations. Most of the studies were conducted in developed countries,with only a handful being undertaken in developing countries. This study aims to investigatethe extent of social and environmental disclosure in the annual reports of Jordanian companiesand examine if the level of disclosure is influenced by size of firm, government ownership andindustry. In particular, disclosure with regard to environmental issues, community involvementand human resource are examined. Using a sample of 60 companies in the manufacturing andservice sectors, content analysis is used to measure the level of disclosure. The findings indi-cate that 85% of the companies somehow disclose social and environmental information. Hu-man resource is the most disclosed theme while the environmental issue had the lowestdisclosure among the companies. In addition, a significant positive association is found be-tween company size and social and environmental disclosure, and companies with high govern-ment ownership tend to have a lower level of disclosure compared to companies with low gov-ernment ownership. On the overall, no significant relationship was found between industry typeand the level of social and environmental disclosure. However, when only environmental issuesare examined, manufacturing companies tend to disclose more of the items compared to servicecompanies.Keywords: social and environmental disclosure, social reporting, environmental reporting,annual reports.Introduction trend in social and environmental report- ing. Subsequently, researchers haveCompanies are now becoming more sen- begun to examine the extent of dis-sitive and aware of their roles and re- closures, including types and nature,sponsibilities towards the society and form, quality and quantity of informa-environment, resulting in a growing tion disclosed. Most of these studiesCorresponding author: Ku Nor Izah Ku Ismail, Associate Professor, College of Business, Universiti Utara Malaysia,Sintok, Kedah, Malaysia, E-mail: email@example.com
K.N.I Ku Ismail, A.H. Ibrahim / Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting 2 (2008/2009) 198-210 199were carried out in the context of among Jordanian listed companies anddeveloped countries (see Adams et al., examine if company characteristics1998; Brown and Deegan, 1998), (namely firm size, industry type andwhile only a handful were conducted government ownership) influence thein developing countries. amount of disclosure.Corporate social and environmental dis- This study is important because it willclosure (CSED) is a process of commu- also include companies in the servicenicating the social and environmental sector, which previous studies tend toeffects of organizations’ economic ac- ignore. Previously, CSED studies tend totions to the society (Gray et al. 1987). In focus on the manufacturing sector. Thethe case of Jordan, like any other devel- service sector also plays a significantoping country, there is a lack of studies role in the Jordanian economy, and con-on CSED (see for example Abu-Baker stitutes 66 percent of the country’s GDPand Naser, 2000; Al-Khadash, 2003; (Jordan economic reports 2006). In addi-Jahamani, 2003). A low level of disclo- tion, only a few studies were carried outsure was found by these studies, despite in Jordan that investigate the role ofthe laws and regulations that mandate ownership structure in influencing thethe Jordanian organizations to disclose level of disclosure, despite the fact thatsocial and environmental reporting in the Jordanian government holds a major-their annual reports, such as the Law of ity of companies’ shares in most bigEnvironmental Protection 1995, and the companies (Naser (1998) cited in NaserSecurities Commission Law of 1998 (Al et al. (2002)). In a developing country-Khadash, 2003). like Jordan, government ownership of companies is viewed as a supervisingOver the past several years, the Jorda- mechanism that may influence the qual-nian economy has improved, with the ity of information disclosed (Nasser etGDP growing at a rate of 6.2% in 2006 al., 2002).(Jordan Economic Reports, 2006). In2006, the Jordanian government has The remaining of this paper is organizedtaken a positive economic measure by as follows. In the next section, this papersignificantly reducing its debt-to-GDP provides a review of literature. Next, weratio (The 2008 World Fact Book). Cou- present the research methods and hy-pled with increased political stability, pothesis development. The findings ofthis measure would help Jordan become the study will be presented next. Finally,more attractive to foreign investors. we will provide the conclusions.Consequently, we expect that there willbe an increased quality of corporate an-nual reports and thus social and environ- Literature Reviewmental reporting reported in the annualreports. The term corporate social reporting (CSR) or corporate social disclosure asAccordingly, this study examines the often been used, has a very broad mean-current practice of social and environ- ing. Guthrie and Mathews (1985) de-mental reporting in Jordan. In particular, fined corporate social disclosure as thethis study measures the extent of CSED provision of financial and non-financial
200 K.N.I Ku Ismail, A.H. Ibrahim / Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting 2 (2008/2009) 198-210information relating to an organization’s information in their annual reportsinteraction with its physical and social (Gray, 2001). Countries vary in the typesenvironment as stated in corporate an- of human resource information they dis-nual reports or separate social reports. close. Roberts (1990) concludes that‘Environment’ is one of the most com- European, South African and Australianmon categories of social disclosure; as companies are more likely than compa-such, most research has considered envi- nies in other parts of the world to dis-ronment as a stand-alone category (Tilt, close employment policies, health and2000), and some others use the term safety information, or have separate sec-CSED to highlight such significance. tions on employment data. There is also evidence to suggest that companies domiciled in a more developed nation isCSED in Developed Countries likely to report more extensively in the developed nation than it is to report inCorporate social and environmental the lesser developed countries in whichreporting issues have received grow- it operates (see, for example, United Na-ing attention, particularly from re- tions, 1992).searchers in developed countries(see for example, Ernst and Ernst, Environmental reporting has a long his-1978; Patten, 1992; Guthrie and Parker, tory. However, only during the late1990; Adams et al., 1998, Gray, 2001; 1980s and early 1990s did it becomeand Araya, 2006). These studies review widespread in Western Europe (Gray etthe social and environmental disclosure al. 1996). Roberts (1991) provides evi-policies of entities around the world. dence that the disclosure level for envi-They provide evidence that there has ronmental information in Germany isbeen an improved corporate social higher than in any other European coun-reporting over the years. Adams et try, in which more than 80 percent ofal. (1998) for example examined the German companies provided at least oneannual reports of six European coun- item of environmental information intries (namely the UK, Germany, their annual reports. According to ArayaFrance, Netherlands, Sweden, and (2006), multinational enterprises fromSwitzerland) and found that there was developed countries are the leading pro-an increased amount of disclosure ducers of environmental reports. Duringamong all countries especially in the the period from 1990 to 2003, 58 percent ofUK and Germany. all separate environmental reports published around the world came from Europe, 20Prior studies also suggest that informa- percent from the Americas (two thirds fromtion related to human resource, as com- the US and one third from Canada and Bra-pared to that of community involve- zil ), 20 percent from Asia (mainly Japan)ment and environment issues, was the and Australasia, and only 2 percent frommost common information provided in Africa and the Middle East.the annual reports (see for example,Guthrie and Parker, 1990; Roberts,1990; and Adams et al., 1998) although CSED in Developing Countriesthere is an increasing awareness amongcompanies to disclose environmental Little attention has been given to
K.N.I Ku Ismail, A.H. Ibrahim / Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting 2 (2008/2009) 198-210 201CSR issues in developing countries is by Jahamani (2003), which examined(Al-Khater and Naser, 2003). Lack of the extent of environmental reporting forregulation was one of the most com- United Arab Emirate companies in 1998.mon problems that authorities in these The results show that only 12 percent ofcountries faced in their efforts to en- the companies in the UAE issued envi-courage corporations to disclose their ronmental reports.environmental and social reports (AbuShiraz, 1998). Abu Shiraz also argued In Jordan, research on social and envi-that the shortage of qualified account- ronmental disclosure was limited (Al-ants in developing countries is part of Khadash, 2003) and is still in the earlythe problem because introducing so- stage (Jahamani, 2003). One of the stud-cial and environmental issues into the ies is by Abu-Baker (2000), who exam-reporting system requires a combina- ined the extent of CSED of Jordaniantion of expertise in various fields in- listed companies in 1997. Using a sam-cluding law, engineering, and sociol- ple of 143 companies chosen from threeogy. In addition, reporting on social different industry groupsand environmental issues presents ad- (manufacturing, insurance, and bank-ditional costs (Al-Khater and Naser, ing), he concluded that all companies2003). Although evidence shows that made some kind of CSR in their annualthe volume of CSED in developing reports. On average, about half of a pagecountries increases (Tsang, 1998 and in the annual report is devoted to socialAl-Khater and Naser, 2003), the vol- disclosure. He also found that environ-ume is still low despite the increas- mental, product and energy reportinging awareness of companies to- need a lot of attention and concentrationwards the social and environmental by Jordanian companies. On the otherissues (see Imam, 1999). Like in de- hand, human resources and communityveloped countries, disclosure is involvement were the most themes com-mainly on human resource (see for monly disclosed across the Jordanianexample Thompson and Zakaria, shareholding companies. In another2004). Environmental information is study, Al-Khadash (2003), examined theleast likely to be reported (Rahman level of social and environmental disclo-and Muttakin, 2005). sure in the annual reports of the Indus- trial Jordanian Shareholding CompaniesWithin the Arab world, Al-Khater and (IJSCs) over the period 1998 to 2000.Naser (2003) investigated the percep- He found that 26 percent of the IJSCstions of various user groups of Qatar’s did not have social and environmentalcorporate reports about different as- disclosure in the annual reports, and thepects of corporate social responsibility level of social and environmental disclo-disclosure. The findings show that re- sure in the IJSCs has increased over thespondents support the idea that compa- period of 1998 to 2000. In addition, thenies should report some kind of CSR to findings showed significant relationshipsjustify their existence within the soci- between the company’s size and man-ety. They felt that the inclusion of agement risk with the level of social andCSED in annual reports would reflect environmental disclosure. On the othersocial responsibility to the public. An- hand, the study did not support any sig-other study of CSED in the Arab world nificant relationship between financial
202 K.N.I Ku Ismail, A.H. Ibrahim / Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting 2 (2008/2009) 198-210performance and the level of social and Industry Typeenvironmental disclosure. Jahamani It is argued that industry may have an(2003) who examined the extent, aware- influence on the amount of disclosure.ness and level of environmental respon- Patten (1991) suggests that the nature ofsibility of Jordanian companies found the industry is a more important factorthat only 10 percent of the companies on social responsibility disclosure. Inissued environmental reports as part of this study, companies are classified intotheir annual reports. The amount of in- either manufacturing or services follow-formation varied from nine pages to a ing the Amman Stock Exchange (ASE)few paragraphs. The study concluded classification. It is expected that manu-that the environmental, product and en- facturing companies are more likely toergy reporting need a lot of attention and provide more disclosure. This is becauseconcentration by Jordanian companies. they have greater environmental impacts on the society than other companies. Manufacturers are known to be greaterHypothesis polluters and more visible to the society. Furthermore, they are expected to influ-Firm Size ence political visibility (Hackston andIn general, large companies have more Milne, 1998). Thus, manufacturing com-stakeholders and are thus more visible to panies would disclosure more to reducethe public than smaller companies. Firth political costs and the pressure from so-(1979) suggests that firms which are cial activists.more visible to the public are morelikely to disclose information to enhance Evidence of the association betweentheir corporate reputation and to reduce industry type and the level of CSED ispolitical costs. It is also argued that re- provided for example by Halme andvealing more information allows large Huse (1997) and Hackston and Milnefirms to obtain new funds at lower costs. (1998). The latter found that manufac-Large firms often possess sufficient re- turing companies with high profit dis-sources for collecting, analyzing, and close more CSED than non-presenting extensive amounts of data at manufacturing companies. Abu-Bakerminimal cost. Although evidence on the (2000) found that manufacturing sectorsassociation between size and CSED is are more likely to disclose informationmixed, expectedly, numerous studies than other sectors (for e.g. service,found the association to be positive (see banking, and insurance).for example, Andrew et al., 1989; Ad-ams, 1998; Hackston and Milne 1998; This leads us to the second hypothesis asAl-Khadash, 2003 and Alsaeed, 2006;) . follows: H2: Manufacturing companies discloseBased on the above arguments and prior more social and environmental informa-findings, the following hypothesis is tion than service companies.tested:H1: There is a positive association be- Government Ownershiptween firm size and the level of social In general, a wider spread in share own-and environmental disclosure. ership is argued to have a positive im- pact on the depth of information dis-
K.N.I Ku Ismail, A.H. Ibrahim / Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting 2 (2008/2009) 198-210 203closed in the annual reports of listed ways are different from those of thecompanies (Fama and Jensen, 1983). In manufacturing and service sectors.the case of Jordan, the government holdsa significant number of shares in most This study uses ordinary least squarecompanies (Naser et al., 2002). Huafang (OLS) regression model to examine theand Jiangu (2007) argued that enhancing influence of the selected firm character-shareholder value may not be the pri- istics on CSED. The following model ismary objective of government owner- estimated:ship. In addition, the government wouldalso be able to obtain information from CSED = α + b1 SIZE + b2 INDUSTRYother sources and be more likely to gain + b3 OWNERSHIP + εeasier access to different channels of Where:financing than non-government firms CSED = the level of CSED disclosure(Eng and Mak, 2003). Consequent, we measured by the number of sentenceshypothesize the following: used,H3: Companies with high government SIZE = size of a company measured byownership tend to disclose less informa- total assets,tion than those with a low government INDUSTRY = “1” if it is a manufactur-ownership. ing company, and “0” if a service com- pany, OWNERSHIP = percentage of govern-Research Methods ment ownership in a company, and ε = the error term.This study examines the level of CSEDin annual reports of Jordanian compa- Content analysis is used to analyze so-nies for the year 2006. There were 240 cial and environmental reporting in thecompanies listed on the Amman Stock annual reports. Number of sentencesExchange (ASE) as of December 2006 (instead of number of words or number(112 and 128 companies are listed on the of pages) was used to measure the levelmain board and the second board, respec- of CSED. This is because the number oftively). The companies are classified sentences may be counted with less useinto four major sectors – banking, insur- of judgment. Moreover, the counting ofance, manufacturing and services com- sentences has been associated withpanies. The focus of this study is on fewer errors compared to the counting ofmanufacturing and service companies words (Unerman, 2000, cited by Niklisted on the main board. There were 44 Ahmad and Sulaiman, 2004)..service and 41 manufacturing companieson the main board. However, only 30 Based on the works of Abu-Bakercompanies from each of the manufactur- (2000) and Al-Khadash (2003), the so-ing and service sectors are randomly se- cial and environmental information islected and examined. Companies in the classified into three themes - human re-banking and insurance sectors (14 and source, community involvement, and13, respectively) are excluded. This is environmental issues. In addition, thesebecause the accounting and disclosure themes are further broken down intorequirements for the sectors in some thirteen items of information.
204 K.N.I Ku Ismail, A.H. Ibrahim / Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting 2 (2008/2009) 198-210Findings and Discussion not have social and environmental dis- closure in the annual reports. The meanOn the overall, 51 out of the 60 compa- number of sentences used to disclosenies (or 85 percent) provide some kind social and environmental is 22, theof information regarding CSED. Nine maximum being 94 sentences. Table 1other companies provide no disclosure. summarizes the information provided byThis is an improvement if compared to companies according to individual itemsAl-Khadash (2003) who found that 26 as well as themes.percent of the sampled companies did Table 1 Summary of CSED in Jordanian Companies’ Annual Reports Disclosure by companies Disclosure by sentences Theme Number of Percent Number of Percent companies SentencesHuman resourcesHealth &safety 27 45.0 87 6.7Number of employees 51 85.0 197 15.2Employee training 39 65.0 196 15.1Incentives level 34 56.7 154 11.8Employment of disabled 11 18.3 27 2.1Other services to employees 21 35.0 124 9.5Sub-total 785 60.4Community involvementDonations to community 41 68.3 233 17.9Public welfare 14 23.3 72 5.5Other activities 16 26.7 94 7.2Sub-total 399 30.6Environmental issuesEnvironment expenditure 13 21.7 42 3.2Pollution abatement 5 8.3 14 1.1Environment preservation 10 16.7 52 4.0Recycling programs 3 5.0 9 0.7Sub-total 117 9.0Grand total 1301 100
K.N.I Ku Ismail, A.H. Ibrahim / Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting 2 (2008/2009) 198-210 205Table 2 provides the descriptive statis- mean of 61 million Dinars. With respecttics of the variables. In terms of firm to ownership structure, the governmentsize, total assets range from 1.8 million owns between zero to 43.1 percent, withto 597 million Jordanian Dinars with a a mean of 5.34 percent. Table 2 Descriptive Statistics N Min. Max. Mean Std. DeviationCSED (number of sen- 60 0 94.00 21.68 20.657tences)SIZE (Total assets in mil-lion Jordanian Dinars) 60 1.8 597 61 110INDUSTRY 60 .00 1.00 .5000 .504OWNERSHIP 60 .00 43.10% 5.34% 10.34Table 3 shows the results of Pearson is no multicollinearity problem in theCorrelation between the independent model.variables. It provides evidence that there Table 3 Pearson Correlation Coefficients INDUSTRY OWNERSHIP SIZE -.051 -.060 (.699) (.650) INDUSTRY .142 (.278)Results of the OLS regression is exhib- variables explain 21 percent of the varia-ited in Table 4. The adjusted R-Square tion in disclosure, and the F-ratio (6.407)of 0.21 implies that the independent shows that the model is significant. Table 4 Regression Results - OverallF-ratio = 6.407 (Sig. F = 0.001) Adjusted R2 = 0.216 Unstandardized Coefficients t Sig. B Std. Error (Constant) 16.054 3.765 4.264 .000 SIZE 7.784E-08 .000 3.592 .001*** INDUSTRY 7.069 4.777 1.480 .145 OWNERSHIP -.491 .233 -2.109 .039***** Significant at 1 percent ** Significant at 5 percent
206 K.N.I Ku Ismail, A.H. Ibrahim / Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting 2 (2008/2009) 198-210There is a significant and positive asso- type and CSED for New Zealand com-ciation between the level of CSED and panies.size of a company, which indicates thatlarger companies disclose more CSED Table 5 shows the regression results ofcompared to smaller companies. There- the effect of the variables on each of thefore, the results support the first hy- three disclosure themes. The F-valuespothesis and is consistent with previous indicate that the models are significantstudies (see for example, Andrew et al., and the adjusted R2 values show that the1989; Hackston and Milne, 1998; Ad- independent variables explain 20 per-ams, 1998; Al-Khadash, 2003; Nik cent, 23 percent and 29 percent of theAhmad and Sulaiman, 2004; Rahman variations in environmental, communityand Muttakin, 2005). As discussed ear- involvement and human resource disclo-lier, large firms are closely watched by sure, respectively. It is evident from thestakeholders, and they have the ability to table that an industry type and size of aabsorb extra costs for improved disclo- company are associated with disclosuresure (Alsaeed, 2006). Moreover, larger of environmental issues (at a 10 percentcompanies tend to have more sharehold- significant level). Large and manufactur-ers who might also be concerned with ing companies tend to disclose morethe social and environmental programs information on environmental issuesundertaken by the company. On the than service companies. This is expectedother hand, smaller companies might not as manufacturing companies greatly af-receive the same level of public pres- fect the environment. Dierkes and Pre-sure. Smaller companies may tend to ston (1977) contend that companiescommunicate information about social whose economic activities modify theprograms through more informal chan- environment, are more likely to disclosenels than through the annual reports information about their environmental(Cowen et al., 1987). impacts than are companies in other in- dustries. Because these companies areIn addition, this study provides evidence more prone to pollution, environmentalthat government ownership has a nega- information is disclosed to reduce politi-tive and significant association with the cal cost and enhance their image. As forlevel of social and environmental disclo- human resource and community involve-sure. Companies listed on the Amman ment, the results resemble the overallStock Exchange (ASE) with high gov- results in which size and governmenternment ownership tend to disclose less ownership influence the level of disclo-CSED than companies with a low gov- sure in the expected direction.ernment ownership. Likewise, this isconsistent with the study of Huafang andJiangu (2007) which found a negative Conclusionassociation between state ownership andthe level of voluntary disclosure in The main purpose of this study is to ex-China. However, there is no significant amine the level of social and environ-association between industry type and mental reporting in Jordanian companiesthe level of CSED. This result is consis- listed on the ASE. In addition, this studytent with Davey (1982) which failed to determines if firm size, governmentfind an association between industry ownership and industry type influence
K.N.I Ku Ismail, A.H. Ibrahim / Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting 2 (2008/2009) 198-210 207 Table 5 Regression Results by ThemesEnvironmental IssuesF-ratio = 4.32 (Sig. F = 0.001) Adjusted R2 = 0.20 Unstandardized Coefficients T Sig. B Std. Error(Constant) .598 .824 .726 .471SIZE 8.478E-09 .000 1.786 .079*INDUSTRY 2.023 1.046 1.934 .058*OWNERSHIP -.033 .051 -.638 .526Community InvolvementF-ratio = 5.24 (Sig. F = 0.001) Adjusted R2 = 0.23(Constant) 5.729 1.583 3.620 .001SIZE 2.381E-08 .000 2.613 .012**INDUSTRY 1.171 2.008 .583 .562OWNERSHIP -.207 .098 -2.118 .039**Human ResourceF-ratio = 4.32 (Sig. F = 0.001) Adjusted R2 = 0.29(Constant) 9.726 2.118 4.593 .000SIZE 4.556E-08 .000 3.737 .000***INDUSTRY 3.875 2.687 1.442 .155OWNERSHIP -.251 .131 -1.919 .060*Significant at 10%*, 5 %** and 1%***the extent of CSED. Results show that Companies that make social and envi-85% of companies made some kind of ronmental disclosures are generallysocial and environmental disclosure with characterized by larger size and lessan average of 22 sentences. This result government ownership. However, theperhaps is a positive indication of the breakdown analysis provides evidencedevelopment of CSED in Jordanian that manufacturing companies providecompanies. Secondly, the results of the more environmental disclosure than ser-analysis showed that company size and vice companies do.the government ownership are associ-ated with the level of social and environ- This study provides some understandingmental disclosure. On the other hand, of Jordanian firms’ disclose strategy,there is no association between social thus enabling the relevant authorities toand environmental disclosure and indus- be in a better position to supervise thetry type. One possible explanation for disclosure requirement. At the samethe lack of association may be that it is time, this study may encourage the Jor-rather simplistic to use a binary classifi- danian government to reconsider thecation for manufacturing and service policy related to social and environ-companies. The specific type of manu- mental activities especially in firms withfacturing industry may be more appro- high government ownership that have apriate than the general measure of manu- lower level of CSED. Future research isfacturing. necessary for Jordanian researchers to
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