Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to investigate differences in voluntary carbon disclosure between developing and developed countries and the role of resource availability in explaining these differences.
Design/methodology/approach: The authors used a sample consisting of 2,045 large firms from 15 countries and representing divergent industries that released Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) company reports in 2009. Profitability, leverage and growth were used as proxies for the degree of resource availability and the firm's participation in the CDP was used as a proxy for carbon disclosure propensity.
Findings: Consistent with the authors' predictions, the empirical results show that the carbon disclosure propensity is correlated in the right direction with resource availability proxies; this relationship is stronger in developing nations, suggesting that the shortage of resources is one reason for the lack of commitment to carbon mitigation and disclosure in these countries. The results are robust when disclosure motivation proxies are controlled for. In addition, it is shown that firms tend to disclose carbon information if their shares are owned by CDP signatories, because it allows them to be viewed as more powerful stakeholders. This finding, which enhances the validity of stakeholder theory, previously has not been documented in the literature.
Research limitations/implications: The findings are relevant to the world's largest organisations, as determined by their market capitalisation. Thus, caution should be exercised to generalise the paper's inferences to small or medium‐sized organisations.
Practical implications: The evidence suggests that resource shortages may constrain a firm management's carbon decisions. As the regulatory environment becomes more stringent, firms, particularly those in developing countries need to take a more proactive strategy to tackle global warming challenges and balance the need to achieve financial goals and prevent carbon pollution with their limited resources.
Originality/value: Although prior studies typically considered external pressures that motivated voluntary environmental disclosure, the paper's results offer extra insight and suggest that resource restriction provides a complementary explanation – largely ignored in the existing literature – for variation in the carbon‐disclosure propensity of firms.
- Carbon disclosure
- Climate change
- Developing countries
- Financial resources availability
- Information disclosure
- Large enterprises