Internet corporate reporting disclosure and transparency

Abstract: The recent wave of well-publicized global corporate accounting scandals has highlighted the importance of the enhanced adoption of Internet technology and hence the increased transparency resulting from the enhanced disclosure of firm information. The objective of this study is to explore and identify Internet corporate reporting (ICR) disclosure in a context of publically listed firms. On a descriptive level, this thesis show that a considerable portion of publically listed firms have relativity high quality in their ICR disclosure, which is indicated by results showing that publically listed firms publish reasonably well-developed Internet-based reporting. In line with the Financial Accounting Standards Board, this thesis depicts characteristics of ICR disclosure practice by outlining the extent of content and presentation. As an indication of the quality of ICR, on average, the frequency of the identified items disclosed by the firms for the content of their websites was higher than for the presentation of information. One of the characteristics of presentation format is extensible business reporting language (XBRL). Consequently, the thesis also seeks to identify the important factors that drive publically listed firms to adopt of XBRL by conducting open-ended interviews. At the explanatory level, the results in this thesis indicate that among firm characteristics and the variables identified as important determinants for the disclosure of firm information in general, only profitability (proxy by return of equity) shows significant association with the extent of ICR disclosure. In addition, the thesis results show that among corporate governance mechanisms, only board size influences the ICR disclosure of firms. The thesis offers an integrated model for ICR disclosure and transparency anchored in multiple theoretical lenses and contributes to the field of corporate Internet reporting. The integrated model is based on four complementary theories: agency theory, stakeholder theory, signaling theory and legitimacy theory. Accordingly, the framework offers the potential for a rich understanding of the phenomena of internet corporate reporting disclosure practice and determinants.

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