Contribution on the analysis of the
environmental disclosure: a comparative
study of American and European
Purpose – This research aims to compare the environmental information that is disclosed in the annual
reports of the American and European multinational companies. Eventually, it also aims to try to show the
factors which explain the differences.
Design/methodology/approach – This paper analyzes the annual reports of 72 multinational
companies, thanks to the index developed by Wiseman. The paper then uses regression analysis in
order to explain the differences.
Findings – The study ﬁnds that European multinationals reveal more environmental information than
those that are American. Equally, it ﬁnds that the nationality of multinational companies seems to have an
effect on the level of environmental communication.
Research limitations/implications – The quantitative data are based on a small sample of
multinational companies. However, ﬁndings will bring efﬁcient contributions to the other studies dealing
with the accounting harmonization.
Originality/value – The study aims at enriching the debates on this question, comparing the
environmental information (obligatory and voluntary) showed by the annual reports of the American and
European multinational companies.
Keywords Disclosure, Environmental management, Annual reports, Multinational companies,
United States of America, Europe
Paper type Research paper
During the last two decades, many multinational groups have suffered various crises that
greatly affect public interests. However, along with the public reactions to these crises, we
noticed that the consumers, the employers and the government ask for environmental
information. As a consequence, the company is no longer considered as a simple unit of
production and commerce to achieve ﬁnancial proﬁts, but is seen as a company for social
progress as well as the welfare of all. In this context, the disclosure of environmental
information is of a great importance since it evaluates the environmental threats, shows if
there are remedies for these risks and highlights the effects of environmental performance
on the ﬁnancial results. Thus, the disclosure of environmental information has ranged ﬁrst
worldwide. The Canadian Board Conference, the Canadian Business for Social
Responsibility, the Organization of Cooperation and Economic Development, the
Securities Exchange Commission, the Canadian Provincial Securities and other
organizations have all faced ecological problems. For that reason, they agree on certain
recommendations to ameliorate the relationship between the company and the environment.
Furthermore, during the last decades, the protection of the environment has been the main
focus of many studies. Some researchers tried to identify the nature of the environmental
DOI 10.1108/17471110910940023 VOL. 5 NO. 1 2009, pp. 83-93, Q Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 1747-1117
SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY JOURNAL
Dammak Saida is a
Researcher, FSEGS, Sfax,