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Essays on Corporate Disclosure of Value Creation

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date2024
Number of pages321
Awarding Institution
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Information on a firm’s business model helps investors understand an entity’s resource requirements, priorities for action, and prospects (FASB, 2001, pp. 14-15; IASB, 2010, p. 12). Disclosures of strategy and business model (SBM) are therefore considered a central element of effective annual report commentary (Guillaume, 2018; IIRC, 2011). By applying natural language processing techniques, I explore what SBM disclosures look like when management
are pressed to say something, analyse determinants of cross-sectional variation in SBM reporting properties, and assess whether and how managers respond to regulatory interventions seeking to promote SBM annual report commentary. This dissertation contains three main chapters. Chapter 2 presents a systematic review of the academic literature on non-financial reporting and the emerging literature on SBM reporting. Here, I also introduce my institutional setting. Chapter 3 and Chapter 4 form the empirical sections of this thesis. In Chapter 3, I construct the first large sample corpus of SBM annual report commentary and provide the first systematic analysis of the properties of such disclosures. My topic modelling analysis rejects the hypothesis that such disclosure is merely padding; instead finding themes align with popular strategy frameworks and management tailor the mix of SBM topics to reflect their unique approach to value creation. However, SBM commentary is less specific, less precise
about time horizon (short- and long-term), and less balanced (more positive) in tone relative to general management commentary. My findings suggest symbolic compliance and legitimisation characterize the typical annual report discussion of SBM. Further analysis identifies proprietary cost considerations and obfuscation incentives as key determinants of symbolic reporting. In Chapter 4, I seek evidence on how managers respond to regulatory mandates by adapting the properties of disclosure and investigate whether the form of the mandate matters. Using a differences-in-differences research design, my results suggest a modest incremental response by treatment firms to the introduction of a comply or explain provision to provide disclosure on strategy and business model. In contrast, I find a substantial response to enacting the same requirements in law. My analysis provides clear and consistent
evidence that treatment firms incrementally increase the volume of SBM disclosure, improve coverage across a broad range of topics as well as providing commentary with greater focus on the long term. My results point to substantial changes in SBM reporting properties following regulatory mandates, but the form of the mandate does matter. Overall, this dissertation contributes to the accounting literature by examining how firms discuss a central topic to
economic decision making in annual reports and how firms respond to different forms of disclosure mandate. Furthermore, the results of my analysis are likely to be of value for regulators and policymakers currently reviewing or considering mandating disclosure requirements. By examining how companies adapt their reporting to different types of regulations, this study provides an empirical basis for recalibrating SBM disclosure mandates, thereby enhancing the information set of capital market participants and promoting stakeholder engagement in a landscape increasingly shaped by non-financial information.