Gerged, Ali M. (2018) Corporate Environmental Disclosure in the Arab Middle Eastern and North African Region: An Institutional Perspective. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Prompted by calls to examine social and environmental disclosure beyond developed countries and, in particular, by studies that have begun to investigate practices in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, this study presents a comprehensive analysis of corporate environmental disclosure (CED) by firms in Arab MENA countries. Using a detailed research instrument consisting of 55 items in five categories, a multi-country content analysis of the annual reports of 180 industrial and service sector companies listed on nine of the region’s major stock markets was conducted for a five-year period from 2010 to 2014. Consistent with previous studies that applied balanced panel data, the further statistical analysis was conducted by using Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) technique and supported by carrying out other estimations including a fixed-effects model, lagged-effects model, a weighted disclosure index model, and a two-stage least square (2SLS) model. Theoretically, an institutional framework has been employed to interpret CED practices in the MENA region using the three isomorphic pressures (i.e., mimetic, coercive, and normative).

The calculation of an unweighted disclosure index indicates that, although the level of disclosure might be considered relatively low, it increased significantly over the period 2010 to 2014. There are some differences between countries in any given year, but the growth in disclosure is observed to be a region-wide phenomenon. Analysis of five categories of environmental disclosure and the behaviour of different types of the company not only reveals some interesting patterns but also reinforces the picture of a widespread general increase in disclosure.

Although firm-specific characteristics (i.e., firm size, profitability, leverage, industry, auditor type) are positively and significantly related to CED in the MENA region, the influence of country-level governance (i.e., voice and accountability, government efficiency, and control of corruption) is heterogeneous in that they may have enhanced or reduced CED levels in annual reports across the nine MENA countries. Additionally, CED reflects the different region-specific pressures (i.e., business cultures and business environment). By using institutional theory, the study argues that country-level institutional factors, representative of the social context of a company’s operational environment may either encourage or discourage the adoption of CED in the countries across the MENA region.

Since a relatively comprehensive disclosure index was used, it is unlikely that the study was biased against any particular country or type of company and so it provides a sound basis for comparison across the Arab MENA region. The study also provides a systematic picture for policymakers in the region as well as future researchers.

Ali Gerged FINAL THESIS.PDF - Accepted Version
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