Purpose – The aim of this paper is to investigate stakeholder power changes and their impact on firms' disclosure decisions in the Chinese stock market. Using legitimacy theory and stakeholder theory, the paper identifies newly emerged stakeholder groups for listed Chinese firms during three distinguished periods of the development of the Chinese stock market.
Design/methodology/approach – Panel data analysis was undertaken over a period from 1995-2006 with an aim to examine the influence of stakeholder power changes on voluntary disclosures made by 297 listed firms in their 12 years of annual reports. A voluntary disclosure checklist has been used for hand-collecting data from annual reports.
Findings – The finding shows that different stakeholder groups exert different degrees of influence on firms' decision-making in respect of information disclosure during different stages of the development of the Chinese stock market.
Research limitations/implications – The impact of a stakeholder power changes on corporate disclosure has not been well addressed and how listed Chinese firms respond to these changes is still a significant gap in the Chinese corporate disclosure literature. In this study, the paper uses proxies to represent each stakeholder group, discuss power changes of each group and predict the impact of power changes on firms' voluntary disclosure.
Originality/value – The paper identifies the new content of the “social contract” between listed firms and Chinese society and identifies various stakeholder groups of listed Chinese firms in the context of a new “social contract”. The paper predicts that voluntary corporate disclosure is the result of stakeholder pressures and firms use voluntary disclosure as one of their strategies to manage the firm-stakeholder relationship.
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