Firms' Disclosure Reactions to Major Social Incidents: Australian Evidence

Posted: 3 Oct 2000

See all articles by Craig Deegan

Craig Deegan

University of Southern Queensland


This study examines the reaction of Australian firms, in terms of annual report disclosure, to five major social incidents. These incidents had significant implications for either the environment, or the safety of both employees and community members. The incidents reviewed are the Exxon Valdez and Bhopal disasters; the Moura Mine disaster in Queens-land; an oil spill, caused by the Iron Baron, off the coast of Tasmania; and the Kirki oil spill, off the coast of Western Australia.

Studies of this nature have previously been restricted to the examination of US company disclosure (e.g. Patten 1992; Blacconiere and Patten 1994), or the stock market reaction to such events in the US (e.g. Blacconiere and Patten 1994). The results of this study indicate that, following four of the incidents, sample firms operating in the affected industries provided more social information in their annual reports than they did prior to the incidents occurrence. These results support a view that organizations utilize their annual report as a means of influencing society's perception of their operations, and as a means of legitimizing their ongoing existence. The strategic nature of voluntary annual report disclosures is emphasized.

JEL Classification: M41, M45

Suggested Citation

Deegan, Craig, Firms' Disclosure Reactions to Major Social Incidents: Australian Evidence. Available at SSRN:

Craig Deegan (Contact Author)

University of Southern Queensland ( email )

Faculty of Commerce
Toowoomba 4350, Queensland
+61 7 4631 1528 (Phone)

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