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This study aims mainly to test the effect of audit committee independence and expertise attributes on corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting, assurance and global reporting initiative (GRI) framework adoption and to investigate how CSR committee existence moderates this main relationship.Design/methodology/approachThe study uses a large global sample that includes all (59,172) firm-year observations having CSR-related data in the Thomson Reuters Eikon database for a period between 2002 and 2019. The empirical analyses are based on random-effects logistic panel regression and Hayes methodology for the moderation analysis.FindingsThe study finds that audit committee independence and expertise are significantly associated with CSR reporting, CSR report assurance and GRI framework adoption. Moderation analysis largely supports the existence of a substitution role between audit and CSR committees and implies that audit committees are significant predictors of CSR reporting, assurance and GRI framework adoption mostly in the absence of the CSR committee.Practical implicationsThe findings propose audit committee members be extra-vigilant in CSR reporting and assurance practices arising from undertaking substitution roles with the CSR committee. Hence, firms may configure their corporate structure in line with the results such as augmenting the audit committee with independent and expert members if they do not constitute a CSR committee. If firms establish a CSR committee, audit committee members may allocate less time to CSR reporting and assurance and more time to financial reporting quality.Originality/valueThis is the first study, to the best of the authors’ knowledge, to investigate the direct and indirect effect of audit committees’ attributes not only on CSR disclosure but also on GRI implementation and CSR reporting external assurance, considering the CSR committee’s possible substitutability or complementarity moderating role. This research develops a deeper understanding of audit committees’ non-financial role.
International Journal of Accounting and Information Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jan 31, 2023
Keywords: Assurance; CSR reporting; Audit committee; GRI; CSR committee; Complementarity and substitution hypothesis; CSR reporting assurance
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