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Stakeholders in annual reports under ownership concentration: a historical case of a Spanish brewery company

Alonso Moreno and Macario Cámara

Accounting History Review, 2016, vol. 26, issue 2, 57-81

Abstract: In accounting studies drawing on stakeholder theory, scant attention has been paid to whether annual reports reliably reflect the main events that are relevant to specific stakeholders. In an attempt to fill this gap, we analyse a qualitative document included in the annual report, the management report (MR), for El Alcázar, a medium-sized Spanish brewery company (1928--1993). This historical period witnessed a unique combination of political regimes (e.g. dictatorships, republic, democracy), which exerted a significant influence on social accountability practices. In this investigation, we focus on three critical stakeholder groups -- workers, customers, and shareholders. In addition, we use minutes from the governing bodies in order to validate the main events at the company. Although annual reports traditionally have been focused on shareholders, in this case, the capital structure of the company and the non-standardised content of the document itself make it reasonable to expect a different focus. Additionally, it is also expected that a longitudinal study, in line with the evolution of the context, reflects the transition from the traditional shareholder to a stakeholder approach. Overall, our findings show that the shareholders are the main audience for the MR. It covers only a small fraction of events relevant to workers and only a fair number relevant to customers. However, as social expectations started to change beginning in the 1960s, during the Franco dictatorship, the company became accountable to broader stakeholder groups, in line with the development of the stakeholder orientation.

Date: 2016
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