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Disclosure responses to mining accidents: South African evidence


  • Coetzee, Charmaine M.
  • van Staden, Chris J.


Mining activities generate significant social concerns in terms of employee safety and stakeholder scrutiny has increased considerably in recent years. Social and environmental accounting research is largely dedicated to environmental issues and the study of other components of social accounting is limited. This study examines safety disclosures in the annual reports, sustainability reports, and reactive corporate press releases of South African mining organisations following two major mining accidents occurring at Harmony Gold and Gold Fields’ mines. Results show that organisations react to perceived legitimacy threats through increased safety disclosures. The entire mining industry evidences an increase in disclosure levels after the incidents, suggesting that organisations do respond to increased stakeholder scrutiny threatening their legitimacy. Furthermore, our results provide evidence of an association between safety disclosure levels and firm size, social performance, risk, and number of fatalities, while the media attention devoted to mining accidents appears to be unrelated to safety disclosure levels. It is possible that stakeholder pressure, which motivates corporate social disclosures according to legitimacy and stakeholder theories, consists of various factors, which combined form the motivation to report. Media attention, therefore, cannot be considered in isolation as a driver of disclosure. Rather, a combination of variables such as size, social responsibility performance, number of fatalities, risk, and media attention could serve as a proxy for social pressure.

Suggested Citation

  • Coetzee, Charmaine M. & van Staden, Chris J., 2011. "Disclosure responses to mining accidents: South African evidence," Accounting forum, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 232-246.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:accfor:v:35:y:2011:i:4:p:232-246
    DOI: 10.1016/j.accfor.2011.06.001

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Blacconiere, Walter G. & Patten, Dennis M., 1994. "Environmental disclosures, regulatory costs, and changes in firm value," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 357-377, November.
    2. Hughes, Susan B. & Anderson, Allison & Golden, Sarah, 2001. "Corporate environmental disclosures: are they useful in determining environmental performance?," Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 217-240.
    3. Patten, Dennis M., 2002. "The relation between environmental performance and environmental disclosure: a research note," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 27(8), pages 763-773, November.
    4. Aerts, Walter & Cormier, Denis, 2009. "Media legitimacy and corporate environmental communication," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 1-27, January.
    5. Darrell, W. & Schwartz, Bill N., 1997. "Environmental disclosures and public policy pressure," Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 125-154.
    6. Patten, Dennis M., 1992. "Intra-industry environmental disclosures in response to the Alaskan oil spill: A note on legitimacy theory," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 17(5), pages 471-475, July.
    7. Charles Cho, 2009. "Legitimation Strategies Used in Response to Environmental Disaster: A French Case Study of Total SA's Erika and AZF Incidents," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(1), pages 33-62.
    8. Steven F. Cahan & Chris J. van Staden, 2009. "Black economic empowerment, legitimacy and the value added statement: evidence from post-apartheid South Africa," Accounting and Finance, Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 49(1), pages 37-58.
    9. de Villiers, Charl & van Staden, Chris J., 2006. "Can less environmental disclosure have a legitimising effect? Evidence from Africa," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 31(8), pages 763-781, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Cyrlene Claasen & Julia Roloff, 2012. "The Link Between Responsibility and Legitimacy: The Case of De Beers in Namibia," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 107(3), pages 379-398, May.
    2. Caskey, Judson & Ozel, N. Bugra, 2017. "Earnings expectations and employee safety," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 121-141.
    3. Renata Blanc & Manuel Castelo Branco & Charles H. Cho & Joanne Sopt, 2013. "In Search Of Disclosure Effects Of The Siemens Ag’S Corruption Scandal," OBEGEF Working Papers 015, OBEGEF - Observatório de Economia e Gestão de Fraude;OBEGEF Working Papers on Fraud and Corruption.
    4. Petra F. A. Dilling, 2016. "Reporting on Long-Term Value Creation—The Example of Public Canadian Energy and Mining Companies," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(9), pages 1-26, September.
    5. Fuisz-Kehrbach, Sonja-Katrin, 2015. "A three-dimensional framework to explore corporate sustainability activities in the mining industry: Current status and challenges ahead," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(P1), pages 101-115.


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