Corporate ecological transparency: theories and empirical evidence

Qingliang Tang, Le Luo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose-The purpose of this paper is to investigate how firm-and country-level determinants affect corporate ecological transparency.

Design/methodology/approach-The study utilizes multiple theories that are commonly used by corporate social responsibility studies to explain the corporate ecological transparency. Based on a sample of 243 Global 500 firms, the authors examine the impact of shareholders' interest in ecological information, creditors' concern, firm size, industry membership, the presence of emission trading scheme (ETS), stringency of environmental regulations on corporate ecological transparency. 

Findings-The paper documents evidence that larger firms, firms in GHG-intensive sectors, and highly leveraged firms tend to produce more ecological disclosures. In addition, ecological transparency is higher in countries with an ETS and increases with more stringent environmental regulation. Finally, the authors find little evidence that shareholders of these firms are concerned with this information.

Research limitations/implications-The sample is restricted to the largest firms with relevant carbon profile information. Thus, caution should be exercised when generalizing the inferences. 

Practical implications-Sustainability has become one of the most importance topics in business agenda. Firms' attitude and decision about the ecological transparency will affect internal firm performance, external stakeholder engagement, and policy makers' attention. It determines the firms' long-term operation and development.

Originality/value-The study contributes to the literature by utilizing multiple theories to explain ecological transparency. Each of the theories provided only a partial explanation for ecological transparency. Thus, we need to consider the firms' behaviors from multiple dimensions. In particular, stakeholder theory and institutional theory are the dominant perspectives accounting for managers' propensity to disclose a firm's ecological footprint.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)498-524
Number of pages27
JournalAsian Review of Accounting
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 5 Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP)
  • Ecological transparency
  • Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
  • Sustainability


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