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Keywords:

  • disclosure;
  • social and environmental information;
  • annual reports;
  • company reports

This paper is concerned with the attempts to explain the disclosure of social and environmental information in the annual reports of large companies by reference to observable characteristics of those companies. An extensive literature has sought to establish whether variables such as corporate size, profit and industry segments can explain corporations' disclosure practices. The results from that predominantly North American and Australasian literature are largely inconclusive. This paper provides an extension of that literature by considering a more disaggregated specification of social and environmental disclosure and by employing a detailed time-series data set. By so doing, the paper tests two possible explanations for the inconclusiveness of prior research: namely that any relationships between corporate characteristics and disclosure are dependent upon the type of disclosure and that any such relationships are not stable through time. The results provide support for these explanations as sufficient, if not necessary, conditions for explaining the inconsistency in prior results.