A comparative analysis of strategy disclosure reporting trends in South Africa in 2010

Ungerer, Marius (2013)

CITATION: Ungerer, M. 2013. A comparative analysis of strategy disclosure reporting trends in South Africa in 2010. Southern African Business Review, 17(3):27-56.

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Article

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In South Africa, the King II Report on Corporate Governance recommended that organisations should produce a sustainability report some time during the reporting cycle (IOD 2009: 13). The latest version, King III, places the emphasis on integrated reporting (Roberts 2009: 14). Integrated reporting entails the publishing of both the sustainability report and the annual report at the same time (Rea 2010: 13). King III thus recognises that strategy, risk, performance and sustainability are inseparable (Mammatt, Marx & Van Dyk 2009: 22). Therefore, the integrated report must contain information that is forward looking and gives strategic direction. The objective is to indicate the long-term sustainability of the organisation against the current fi nancial performance (Roberts 2009: 14). In as far as the sustainability aspect of the integrated report is concerned, King III recommends the use of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) G3 Guidelines as a generic sustainability reporting framework (PwC 2010: 4). 4From the above, it is clear that organisations should provide information for stakeholders on strategy as part of the disclosure requirements. The specifi c level of strategy disclosure by organisations in public documentation is not a well-researched area in South Africa. Some studies (Rea 2010; Kolk 2010) did report on the level of GRI reporting by industry and companies within industries, while others (Santema & Van de Rijt 2001; Santema, Hoekert, Van de Rijt & Van Oijen 2005) probed general strategy disclosure trends in Europe and South Africa (Padia & Yasseen 2011). 5The rationale behind this study is to determine the specifi c level of disclosure of strategic information in annual and sustainability reports. With this aim in mind, three strategy disclosure baselines were created to determine the level of strategy reporting. The foundation of Baseline 1 was the GRI G3 Guidelines (GRI 2006); Baseline 2 was based on aspects associated with strategic architecture (Ungerer, Pretorius & Herholdt 2011: 144); and Baseline 3 included business model elements (Osterwalder & Pigneur 2010: 14). 6The study focused on 24 companies in South Africa with GRI G3 aligned reports covering fi ve industry sectors (Banking, Construction and Materials, Energy and Natural Resources, Mining and Metals, and Retail). The annual and (if published separately) sustainability reports published by these organisations during the 2010 calendar year formed the main data source. 7The study found different disclosure levels between industries ranging from 81% aggregate average for the Energy and Natural Resources sector to 54% for the Banking sector. The disclosure levels per baseline varied from 57% for Baseline 2, to 66% for Baseline 3 and 68% for Baseline 1.

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