Does the quality of sustainability reports have a significant effect on the financial performance of companies ?
Promotor(s) : Crutzen, Nathalie
Date of defense : 20-Jan-2020/24-Jan-2020 • Permalink :
|Title :||Does the quality of sustainability reports have a significant effect on the financial performance of companies ?|
|Author :||Schlossnikel, Amelie|
|Date of defense :||20-Jan-2020/24-Jan-2020|
|Advisor(s) :||Crutzen, Nathalie|
|Committee's member(s) :||Xhauflair, Virginie
|Number of pages :||111|
|Keywords :||[en] Sustainability|
|Discipline(s) :||Business & economic sciences > Accounting & auditing|
|Institution(s) :||Université de Liège, Liège, Belgique|
|Degree:||Master en sciences de gestion, à finalité spécialisée en Financial Analysis and Audit|
|Faculty:||Master thesis of the HEC-Ecole de gestion de l'Université de Liège|
[en] In an environment, where sustainability issues have gained substantial importance over the past years, the trend has reached companies and impacted the development of non-financial reporting. The results on how it affects companies with regards to their financial performance, however, have been diverse. Explanations for these mixed outcomes can be found in varying interpretations of non-financial reporting and a broad range of regulations in different countries. This thesis takes the introduction of the Directive 2014/95/EU as a reason to investigate, whether an increase in standardization due to mandatory reporting, based on established guidelines, improves the potential for regression analysis on a European level. In addition, it considers that higher standardization and comparability might raise awareness and expectations of stakeholders, which may lead to companies having to focus more on the quality of their sustainability reports. An examination of sources, that stakeholders use to establish an idea of a report’s quality, showed an orientation towards external assurance statements and recommended frameworks. Hence, the reporting quality is measured by the existence of assurance, as well as the application of one of the most approved guidelines from the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). In addition, the established multivariate regression model controls for size, leverage, and takes year dummy variables in account, in order to search for potential temporary effects. The panel data analysis on companies from the STOXX Europe Sustainability Index reveals a slightly positive correlation between external assurance and the market-to-book-ratio (MTBV). The fact that other variables, especially GRI, remained statistically insignificant might indicate that the EU-directive was only a first step towards sufficient standardization of sustainability reporting, and that there might still be large gaps in the understanding of non-financial disclosure. Nevertheless, this thesis extends previous literature, in that it considers the most recent regulatory changes on a supranational level. Furthermore, it gives managerial implications with respect to investments in external assurance, seeming to have a positive influence on financial performance, despite the potential risk of high initial costs. Eventually, these results lead to the question of how the dynamic regulatory environment and increasing standardization will change the corporate environment in the long-run, which can be subject to future studies.
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