Corporate social reporting in a transition economy: the case of Libya
The social and economic environments of developing countries differ from those of liberal market economies of the developed countries, and the differences are reflected in the accounting disclosure practices. Recent years have shown an increased attention paid by accounting research to Corporate Social Responsibility and Disclosure which is recognized as having the potential to enhance the transparency of business enterprises’ social influence, enabling the wider society to hold business enterprises more accountable for their operations. Corporate Social Responsibility and Disclosure practices in most developing countries remain fairly rudimentary and relatively few studies have focused on the corporate social responsibility disclosure practices in such countries.\ud The aim of this study is to investigate corporate social responsibility disclosure in Libyan companies’ annual reporting in the light of the country’s economic, social and political environment. In particular, it seeks to map current corporate social disclosure in annual reports and to understand various parties’ views of that practice and its possible future development.\ud To achieve the aim and particular objectives of the study it was necessary to utilise more than one research method. Firstly, a descriptive method is used to provide an overview of accounting and its environment in a developing country, and the economic, social and political environment in Libya. Secondly, empirical evidence\ud covering a five year period across a sample of private and public companies in Libyan environment is presented using content analysis to analyse the companies’ annual reports. Finally, an empirical survey by personally delivered and collected questionnaire of 303 participants in four groups of research participants (academic accountants, financial managers, government officials and investors) was performed to explore the views and perceptions regarding corporate social reporting in Libya.\ud The content analysis showed that Libyan companies generally disclose some information related to social responsibility. However, the amount of information is low compared with counterparts in developed countries. Employee and community\ud involvement are the themes that the companies disclose most information about. The findings from the questionnaire survey indicate that participants preferred social information to be disclosed in the annual report, ideally placed in a separate section. The disclosure of more social and environmental information was widely accepted\ud and viewed as leading to some socioeconomic benefits at the macro level.