Title: Financial performance and voluntary environmental disclosures during the Asian Financial Crisis: the case of Hong Kong

Authors: Marinilka B. Kimbro, Sara R. Melendy

Addresses: School of Business Administration, Gonzaga University, 502 E. Boone Ave., Spokane, Washington, 99258-0009 USA. ' School of Business Administration, Gonzaga University, 502 E. Boone Ave., Spokane, Washington, 99258-0009 USA

Abstract: Voluntary environmental reporting and disclosures (VED) in annual reports provide managers with an effective way to manage expectations of the sustainability and risk exposure of the firm. Many studies have documented that VED are fairly common among publicly listed firms. However, in the case of Hong Kong (HK) during the Asian Financial Crisis, VED use was very low. This study contributes to the research on VED by examining the association of VED levels and firm performance in a unique environment, one where VED are more likely to be truthful. The theoretical argument tested is that in low-information and economically volatile environments, the relatively few firms that include VED in their annual reports are truthfully indicating their superior financial performance. After controlling for capital and debt structure, the statistically significant results show that firms with VED are more profitable than firms that did not disclose during the same period. This suggests that, firms that are in difficult economic environments, such as emerging capital markets or severe economic crises, are less likely to use VED and thus the VED are more likely to be truthful.

Keywords: environmental reporting; information content; voluntary disclosure; environmental performance; profitability; Hong Kong; financial performance; Asia; financial crisis; sustainability; annual reports; sustainable development; public companies; listed companies; firm performance; economic volatility; capital; debt structures; profitability; emerging markets; business performance; performance management.

DOI: 10.1504/IJBPM.2010.036042

International Journal of Business Performance Management, 2010 Vol.12 No.1, pp.72 - 85

Published online: 13 Oct 2010 *

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