Material legitimacy: Blending organisational and stakeholder concerns through non-financial information disclosures

John Dumay*, Geoff Frost, Cornelia Beck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to present a case study of how two organisations deal with disclosing non-financial information (NI). This is of interest because the reporting of NI by companies to disclose environmental, social and governance issues to their stakeholders and society is continuing to grow. Design/methodology/approach: To investigate, the authors examine the manner in which two of Australia's largest companies approach disclosing NI from a legitimacy perspective utilising Suchman's (1995) "institutional and strategic legitimacy" perspectives to explore the choices made by the companies when disclosing NI. Findings: The paper presents a model of legitimacy influenced disclosure based on "material legitimacy", which we define as the form of legitimacy that enables organisations to blend what is important to the organisation (strategic legitimacy) with the primary concerns of its major stakeholders (institutional legitimacy). In this sense, the model outlines how companies try to achieve mutually beneficial "win-win" outcomes for themselves and their stakeholders. However, the difficulty is in judging what issues become "material" and whether they should be disclosed. Originality/value: The paper is novel because it presents a model of legitimacy-influenced disclosure based on "material legitimacy" and transparency to explain what and how NI is disclosed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-23
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Accounting and Organizational Change
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2015


  • Corporate reporting
  • Disclosures
  • Legitimacy theory
  • Material legitimacy
  • Non-financial information
  • Transparency


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