FIRMS’ FINANCIAL VALUE AND WEB-BASED ENVIRONMENTAL DISCLOSURES: AN EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE OF NIGERIAN FIRMS

Abstract

This research investigates whether firms’ financial value (FFV) enhances web-based environmental disclosure (WED). This study is very fundamental because it presents some of the first empirically tested evidence of the effects of FFV on WED employing all the firms on the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE). The findings of the study indicate an insignificant negative relationship between WED and EPS on one hand and insignificant positive relationship between WED and ROTA on the other. The content analyses performed show that listed firms do not adequately disclose their environmental incidents. It was recommended amongst others that regulatory framework be set mandating listed firms to own websites and dedicate pages on their corporate websites for solely reporting environmental events.

Environmental sustainability is no doubt this century’s most significant issue currently facing all nations across the globe. The issue has assumed a high public profile resulting from concern regarding environmental degradation. This is evident in the Copenhagen Summit (COP15), the London and the parallel Pittsburgh Summit of the G20 Leaders, the United Nations Special Summit on the Environment (Firoz & Ansari, 2010; Jia, Liaxia & Adam, 2010) and the United Nations climate change summit in Paris (COP21) in December 2015 (Stern, 1990) where leaders of close to 200 nations converged to chart a course for a new template for environmental sustainability

Environmental issues have also been perceived by many companies as a fundamental issue. Lyon and Maxwell (2011) noted that environmental issues have been on the corporate radar for years. Bhasin (2012:177) affirms that “business organizations across the globe are facing the challenge of disseminating environmental information as the public concerns regarding these issues have increased”. As public awareness towards sustainable environmental development grows, industries and corporations have a major role in environmental degradation and protection thereof (ACCA, 2001; Malarvizhi & Yadav, 2009).

This consciousness has significantly signaled a shift from the traditional objectives of firms, which were mostly concerned with financial bottom line or profitability. Uwuigbe (2011:26) concurs that “in today’s business paradigm, shifting from a traditional profit-focused management to a progressive environmental management has become a key factor in strengthening corporate competitiveness”. Thus managers of businesses are expected not to only “maximize firm worth or value but also ensure environmental sustainability through their actions by lowering greenhouse emissions, reduce carbon trace, enhance the use of alternative renewable energy, and curtail environmental pollution” (Jia et al, 2010) and then disclose these environmental undertakings using the effective tool of environmental accounting.

Environmental accounting, which is viewed as a general umbrella of the literature of environmental disclosures (Eltaib, 2012) is considered one of the most important tools in adopting a successful environmental management (Uwuigbe, 2011). James (1998) sees environmental accounting as identifying and reporting of environment specific costs of liability and waste disposal.

Environmental disclosures have been traditionally done through the conventional print media including company’s annual reports (CARS) even for various strategic reasons (Lohdia, 2005; Malarvizhi and Yadav, 2009; Rouf and Harun, 2011). However, these media cannot be used for continuous and effective disclosures (Smith & Pierce, 2005; DUTTA & Bose, 2007; Khan, 2007). Ghasempour and Yusof (2014) observe that print-based information could take from a few minutes to many days for a mailed copy of a print-based annual report to get to stakeholders. Thus companies are now exploring the use of unconventional reporting and communication media (Adams and Fros, 2004).

Web-based corporate reporting is no doubt an increasing global trend in the past two decades or thereabout. Xiao, Jones and Lymer (2005:132) concurs that “within a short period of less than 20 years, the internet has grown from an essentially academic facility to the backbone of the information superhighway”. Considering this global trend, one relevant question to ask is: “can companies within Nigeria afford to be left out of this all-encompassing wave of technological competency for environmental reporting practices?”

Firms’ financial value (FFV) and web-based environmental disclosure (WED) in Nigeria is yet to be fully researched. Therefore, the literature in this line is largely inadequate. The attempt by Uwuigbe (2012) covers only a minute section of the entire companies that own a website as listed on the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE). This study fills the gap by providing empirical evidence on the effect of firms’ financial value on web-based environmental disclosures of the entire companies quoted on the Nigeria Stock Exchange

Studies on web-based environmental disclosure (WED) have been well researched in developed economies and more current literature has centred specifically on bigger firms operating in the developed world (Adams & Frost, 2004; Lodhia, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007; Jose & Lee, 2006; Razeed, 2009; Chowdhury & Hamid, 2013). Lodhia (2006:71) further echoed this position noting that “web-based environmental communications studies are relatively new additions to the environmental communication literature and that most of these studies are based on practices in the UK, US and Australia”. The foregoing cannot be said of African countries particularly Nigeria. Moreover, previous researches on web-based environmental disclosures as performed in developed economies cannot be generalised to Nigeria due largely to systematic and cultural differences.

The main problem of this study is that there is a very limited literature on web-based environmental disclosures of quoted firms in Nigeria. Furthermore, the attempt made by Uwuigbe (2012) covers a very small section of the entire listed companies on the NSE that own a website and did not compare web-based environmental disclosure extent across entire industry groups. This study fills this gap by providing empirical evidence on the relationship between firms’ financial value and web-based environmental disclosures of the entire NSE listed firms that operate and maintain a corporate website.

  • Research Questions
  • What is the extent of web-based environmental disclosures (WED) of quoted firms in Nigeria?
  • To what extent does firms’ financial value enhance the level of web-based environmental disclosures (WED) in Nigeria?
  • Objectives of the Study

Specifically, this study seeks to:

  • Assess the extent of web-based environmental disclosure of quoted firms in Nigeria;

Determine whether firms’ financial value enhances the degree of web-based environmental disclosures (WED) of quoted firms in Nigeria.