Purpose– The purpose of this paper is to assess the level of voluntary disclosure in the companies listed on the Italian Stock Exchange. Voluntary disclosure refers to the discretionary release of financial and non-financial information which companies are not obliged to disclose by a standard-setting accounting body. In particular, this paper analyses the effect that certain determinants (leverage, firm size, sector auditor, performance and ownership concentration) could have on voluntary information disclosed by Italian listed companies. In order to do this, 203 annual reports of Italian listed companies for the year 2012 were analysed. Design/methodology/approach– To assess the extent of voluntary disclosure, an index is created and used as a dependent variable in an OLS model to understand the relationship between the above-mentioned determinants. The disclosure score is composed mainly of 38 items per firm (a total of 7,714 items were collected and analysed) regarding firm performance, general information, forward-looking information, human capital, research and development projects, stock market information, segment reporting information and other information. In order to differentiate the information presented in annual reports, a score was assigned to each item on the index (2 points if an item was reported in qualitative and quantitative terms, 1 point if the item was reported in qualitative terms, 0 points if the item was absent). The score is not weighted because all items are equally important for the research purpose. Repeated information is considered only once. Findings– According to the research findings, human resource information is the voluntary disclosure item reported with the highest frequency, and both firm size and auditors positively affect the total amount of voluntary information disclosed by Italian listed companies. Financial firms provide a lower level of voluntary disclosure than do industrial firms. Originality/value– The paper contributes in improving knowledge about Italian firms’ voluntary disclosure of firm-specific determinants, analysing a wide number of items provided in 2012 annual reports.
EuroMed Journal of Business – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jul 4, 2016