The New Zealand Stock Exchange Governance Code : investigating calls for improved sustainability reporting and management intentions.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Commerce
The purpose of this study is to examine to the current state of sustainability reporting by New Zealand’s listed organisations and the likelihood that the revised New Zealand Stock Exchange Corporate Governance Best Practice Code (the NZX Code) will pressure listed organisations to increase their levels of disclosure. This was investigated using mixed methods and in three phases. First, an in-depth quantitative content analysis of the NZX50’s publicly available nonfinancial information was undertaken. The GRI G4 Guidelines were used to assess the disclosures of the NZX50. This was carried out in order to understand of sustainability reporting, both in terms of quantity and quality of disclosure. Second, partially replicating the study of Hackston & Milne (1996), the effects of organisational characteristics on the quantity of non-financial disclosures by the NZX50 are examined. Third, a number of interviews with report preparers from the NZX50 as well as the market regulator were undertaken. These were qualitative semi-structure interviews. By utilising a mixed methods approach, a fuller picture of the current uptake of sustainability reporting and how the changes to the NZX Code might induce improved sustainability reporting in New Zealand has been comprehensively investigated. The researcher findings indicate the quantity of non-financial disclosures among New Zealand’s listed organisations are primarily driven by firm size, whereas smaller listed organisations do not typically report. By examining the most and least disclosed GRI items, the findings indicate that listed organisations do well in areas that require basic quantitative and qualitative disclosures, and tend to do poorly in areas where more specific quantitative disclosures are required. Given the NZX’s recommendation for ESG reporting is enacted on a “comply or explain” regime, the study suggests non-reporting organisations will more than likely utilise an “explain” option as a means of avoiding ESG disclosure. Overall, the study anticipates that it is unlikely that the NZX’s recommendation for ESG reporting will have a significant impact on the overall uptake of sustainability reporting in New Zealand, let alone improving its quality.