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Stakeholder Perceptions of Risk in Mandatory Corporate Responsibility Disclosure

Baudot, L., Huang, Z. ORCID: 0000-0003-2280-3149 and Wallace, D. (2020). Stakeholder Perceptions of Risk in Mandatory Corporate Responsibility Disclosure. Journal of Business Ethics, doi: 10.1007/s10551-020-04476-7

Abstract

The extraction of natural resources is a controversial business practice that has profound ethical and economic risk implications for both firms involved in extractive activities and society at large. In response to these implications, the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 directed the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to create the first ever rules requiring annual corporate responsibility disclosures. The two proposed rules, requiring disclosure of the source of “conflict minerals” and of payments to foreign governments by extractive firms, conjured intense debate among stakeholders, largely related to the risks of firms providing (or not providing) the information. These risks span from required disclosures increasing compliance costs for firms to non-disclosure threatening human rights. In this study we seek to understand the way in which stakeholders perceive the risks associated with corporate responsibility disclosures. We analyze comment letters submitted to the SEC related to the two disclosure rules through the lens of Mary Douglas’s (1986) cultural perspectives of risk. We find consistencies across the two proposed disclosures with regards to the presence of three risk perspectives within the comment letter discourse for each proposal. We find inconsistencies, however, in the underlying nature of risk perceived across the two rules, which we argue reveals an aspect of risk that incorporates ethicality and is ultimately linked to reputational considerations. We complement these insights by analyzing the market reaction to the proposed regulations. Overall, our analysis suggests that stakeholders’ perceptions of risk have consequences for how risk is perceived and acted upon in the market.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Journal of Business Ethics. The final authenticated version is available online at: http://link.springer.com/journal/10551.
Publisher Keywords: risk perceptions; mandatory disclosure; corporate responsibility; ethics; comment letters; market reaction
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD61 Risk Management
Departments: Business School > Finance
Date Deposited: 10 Mar 2020 14:15
URI: https://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/23890
[img] Text - Accepted Version
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