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The impact of legitimacy threaton the choice of external carbon assurance

The impact of legitimacy threaton the choice of external carbon assurance PurposeThe purpose of this study is to examine the impact of legitimacy threats on corporate incentive to obtain external carbon assurance.Design/methodology/approachThe sample consists of the largest US companies that disclosed carbon emissions to CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project) over the period 2010-2013. Based on legitimacy theory, firms are more likely to obtain carbon assurance when they are under greater legitimacy threat. Carbon assurance is measured using CDP data. Three proxies are identified to measure legitimacy threat related to climate change: carbon emissions intensity, firm size and leverage.FindingsThis paper finds that firms with higher levels of emissions are more likely to obtain independent assurance, and large firms show the same tendency, as they are probably under pressure from their large group of stakeholders. In sum, the findings suggest that firms with higher carbon emissions face greater threats to their legitimacy, and the adoption of carbon assurance can mitigate risks to legitimacy with enhanced credibility of carbon disclosure in stakeholders’ decision-making.Research limitations/implicationsThe study has some limitations. The authors have relied on CDP reports for analysis and focus on the largest companies in the US. Caution should be exercised when generalising the results to smaller firms, other countries or voluntary carbon assurance information disclosed in other communications channels.Practical implicationsThis study provides extra insights into and an improved understanding of determinants and motivation of carbon assurance, which should be useful for policymakers to develop policies and initiatives for carbon assurance. The collective results should be useful for practicing accountants and accounting firms.Originality/valueThe paper investigates how legitimacy threats affect firms’ choice of external carbon assurance in the context of US, which has not been documented previously. It contributes to the understanding of legitimacy theory in the context of voluntary carbon assurance. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Accounting Research Journal Emerald Publishing

The impact of legitimacy threaton the choice of external carbon assurance

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
1030-9616
DOI
10.1108/ARJ-03-2017-0050
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

PurposeThe purpose of this study is to examine the impact of legitimacy threats on corporate incentive to obtain external carbon assurance.Design/methodology/approachThe sample consists of the largest US companies that disclosed carbon emissions to CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project) over the period 2010-2013. Based on legitimacy theory, firms are more likely to obtain carbon assurance when they are under greater legitimacy threat. Carbon assurance is measured using CDP data. Three proxies are identified to measure legitimacy threat related to climate change: carbon emissions intensity, firm size and leverage.FindingsThis paper finds that firms with higher levels of emissions are more likely to obtain independent assurance, and large firms show the same tendency, as they are probably under pressure from their large group of stakeholders. In sum, the findings suggest that firms with higher carbon emissions face greater threats to their legitimacy, and the adoption of carbon assurance can mitigate risks to legitimacy with enhanced credibility of carbon disclosure in stakeholders’ decision-making.Research limitations/implicationsThe study has some limitations. The authors have relied on CDP reports for analysis and focus on the largest companies in the US. Caution should be exercised when generalising the results to smaller firms, other countries or voluntary carbon assurance information disclosed in other communications channels.Practical implicationsThis study provides extra insights into and an improved understanding of determinants and motivation of carbon assurance, which should be useful for policymakers to develop policies and initiatives for carbon assurance. The collective results should be useful for practicing accountants and accounting firms.Originality/valueThe paper investigates how legitimacy threats affect firms’ choice of external carbon assurance in the context of US, which has not been documented previously. It contributes to the understanding of legitimacy theory in the context of voluntary carbon assurance.

Journal

Accounting Research JournalEmerald Publishing

Published: Jul 1, 2019

References