Refreshments: 14:00 - 14:30
Location: LG01, Henley Business School, Whiteknights
Presenter: Dr Maizatulakma Abdullah; Noradiva Hamzah Faculty of Economics and Management, The National University of Malaysia, Bangi Selangor, Malaysia
Haze continues to affect the Southeast Asian region and has been causing a significant deterioration in air quality. The palm oil industry is being blamed for causing haze and is urged by stakeholders to improve its accountability and transparency. Despite the growing research in environmental accountability and transparency, to the best of our knowledge, none has scrutinised stakeholders’ perspectives in relation to environmental disclosure of this controversial industry. This study aims to investigate stakeholders’ needs and expectations regarding environmental disclosure of palm oil companies and to examine the quality of disclosure, as well as its impact on firm performance. This study conducted semi-structured interviews to ascertain stakeholders’ needs and expectations regarding palm oil companies’ environmental disclosure. Then, content analysis of 2013–2017 annual reports of public listed palm oil companies was undertaken to examine the quality of disclosures. Finally, the impact of environmental disclosure on firm performance was tested utilising a panel data approach. This study finds that Indonesian plantation companies showed a lack of accountability and transparency in relation to haze and environmental issues. Malaysian companies provided slightly better disclosures year by year, indicating improved accountability and transparency. The findings also show that environmental disclosure was associated with better firm performance but only for Malaysian companies. Disclosure has no association with the performance of Indonesian companies. The Malaysian government should give serious consideration to making environmental disclosure mandatory, not only for the sake of the environment but also for the economic sustainability of the palm oil industry. Further research needs to be conducted on how to improve the performance of firms in using other measures, as ‘hard’ environmental information itself is inadequate to boost stakeholder confidence for Indonesian companies.
Dr. Maizatulakma Abdullah is a senior lecturer at the Governance Resilience & Accountability Centre, The National University of Malaysia. She has been working in this university since 2008 up to the present. Currently, she is on a research leave and has been appointed as a visiting research fellow at The Business School, University of Edinburgh. She does research on risk reporting and environmental reporting.