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Firms' Disclosure Reactions to Major Social Incidents: Australian Evidence


  • Craig Deegan
  • Michaela Rankin
  • Peter Voght


This study examines the reaction of Australian firms, in terms of annual report disclosure, to five major social incidents. These incidents had significant implications for either the environment, or the safety of both employees and community members. The incidents reviewed are the Exxon Valdez and Bhopal disasters; the Moura Mine disaster in Queens‐land; an oil spill, caused by the Iron Baron, off the coast of Tasmania; and the Kirki oil spill, off the coast of Western Australia.Studies of this nature have previously been restricted to the examination of US company disclosure (e.g. Patten 1992; Blacconiere and Patten 1994), or the stock market reaction to such events in the US (e.g. Blacconiere and Patten 1994). The results of this study indicate that, following four of the incidents, sample firms operating in the affected industries provided more social information in their annual reports than they did prior to the incidents occurrence. These results support a view that organizations utilize their annual report as a means of influencing society's perception of their operations, and as a means of legitimizing their ongoing existence. The strategic nature of voluntary annual report disclosures is emphasized.

Suggested Citation

  • Craig Deegan & Michaela Rankin & Peter Voght, 2000. "Firms' Disclosure Reactions to Major Social Incidents: Australian Evidence," Accounting Forum, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 24(1), pages 101-130, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:accfor:v:24:y:2000:i:1:p:101-130
    DOI: 10.1111/1467-6303.00031

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    Cited by:

    1. David Campbell, 2003. "Intra‐ and intersectoral effects in environmental disclosures: evidence for legitimacy theory?," Business Strategy and the Environment, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 12(6), pages 357-371, November.
    2. Stephen Brammer & Stephen Pavelin, 2006. "Voluntary Environmental Disclosures by Large UK Companies," Journal of Business Finance & Accounting, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(7‐8), pages 1168-1188, September.
    3. Higgins, Colin & Tang, Samuel & Stubbs, Wendy, 2020. "On managing hypocrisy: The transparency of sustainability reports," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 395-407.
    4. Janet Haddock‐Fraser, 2012. "The Role of the News Media in Influencing Corporate Environmental Sustainable Development: An Alternative Methodology to Assess Stakeholder Engagement," Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 19(6), pages 327-342, November.
    5. David Collison & Nathan Lorraine & David Power, 2003. "An exploration of corporate attitudes to the significance of environmental information for stakeholders," Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 10(4), pages 199-211, December.
    6. Janet Haddock‐Fraser & Iain Fraser, 2008. "Assessing corporate environmental reporting motivations: differences between ‘close‐to‐market’ and ‘business‐to‐business’ companies," Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 15(3), pages 140-155, May.
    7. Grigoris Giannarakis & Eleni Zafeiriou & Garyfallos Arabatzis & Xanthi Partalidou, 2018. "Determinants of Corporate Climate Change Disclosure for European Firms," Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 25(3), pages 281-294, May.
    8. Thomas P. Lyon & John W. Maxwell, 2011. "Greenwash: Corporate Environmental Disclosure under Threat of Audit," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(1), pages 3-41, March.
    9. Elvia Shauki, 2011. "Perceptions on corporate social responsibility: A study in capturing public confidence," Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 18(3), pages 200-208, May.
    10. Vera Palea & Federico Drogo, 2020. "Carbon emissions and the cost of debt in the eurozone: The role of public policies, climate‐related disclosure and corporate governance," Business Strategy and the Environment, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(8), pages 2953-2972, December.

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