Purpose: This paper aims to investigate the extent of shareholder engagement and satisfaction with corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports of a Chinese-owned company compared to an Australian-owned company in the Australian mining industry. The study is motivated by the speed, extent and nature of Chinese foreign direct investment in Australia, the resulting negative social attitudes and the impact on the perceptions of a report’s credibility.
Design/methodology/approach: The authors conducted a survey of 202 minority shareholders of two Australian mining companies, one has a Chinese majority shareholder and the other an Australian majority shareholder. The responses highlight users’ comparative perceptions of corporate motivations for reporting, the level of perceived shareholder power over reporting decisions and the resulting propensity to read CSR reports.
Findings: The authors found that, contrary to decision-usefulness theory, which posits that users will read CSR reports only if they are deemed to be reliable, that perceptions of poor credibility and poor CSR performance actually result in a higher propensity to read the reports. This suggests that the minority shareholders of the Chinese acquired firm are using reports to monitor the level of corporate accountability.
Originality/value: The findings have implications for firms operating in politically or socially sensitive industries that are likely to use CSR reporting as a legitimising strategy. The paper also provides guidance to regulators in the provision of information, which is meaningful to minority shareholders.
- Chinese FDI
- Corporate social responsibility
- User perceptions