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The Economic Relevance of Environmental Disclosure and its Impact on Corporate Legitimacy: An Empirical Investigation

Denis Cormier and Michel Magnan

Business Strategy and the Environment, 2015, vol. 24, issue 6, 431-450

Abstract: In determining its environmental disclosure strategy, a firm's management faces a tension between responding to the information needs of financial markets and maintaining its legitimacy within the community. In this paper, relying on information economics and legitimacy theory, we explore how firms resolve this tension. Results show that a firm's environmental disclosure enhances the quality of analysts' information context, which ultimately allows them to make better forecasts. Moreover, financial analysts seem to be able to decipher environmental information, discounting discourses that are inconsistent with a firm's underlying environmental performance. We find also that a firm's environmental disclosure serves another purpose, as it influences how its other stakeholders (beyond financial ones) perceive its legitimacy. Such enhanced legitimacy reduces the information uncertainty faced by financial analysts. Our results suggest also that both economic-based environmental disclosure and sustainable development and environmental disclosure are useful to analysts in making their forecasts and enhance a firm's legitimacy. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.

Date: 2015
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