Determinants of Quantitative Information Withholding in Annual Reports
Posted: 14 Jan 2009 Last revised: 10 Mar 2010
Date Written: Mach 8, 2010
In recent years, the determinants of voluntary disclosure have been explored in an extensive body of empirical research. One major limitation of those studies is that none has tried to find out whether voluntary disclosures were occasional or continuous over time. Yet this point is particularly important, as the voluntary disclosure mechanism can only be fully effective if the manager consistently reports the same items. This paper examines the factors associated with the decision to stop disclosing an item of information previously published voluntarily (henceforth “information withholding” or IW). To measure information withholding, we code 178 annual reports of French firms for three consecutive years. Although disclosure scores are relatively stable over time, we find that this does not mean there is no change in voluntary disclosure across the years. We document that IW is a widespread practice: on average, one voluntary item out of seven disclosed in a given year is withheld the following year. We show that information withholding is mainly related to the firm’s competition environment, ownership diffusion, board independence and the existence of a dual leadership structure (separate CEO and chairman).
Keywords: Voluntary Disclosure, Information Withholding, Proprietary Costs
JEL Classification: M41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation