Aspects of the motivation for voluntary disclosures: evidence from the publication of value added statements in an emerging economy

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This paper investigates the motivation for the voluntary disclosure of financial information by companies in their annual financial statements, by examining aspects of the usefulness of the value added statement. The value added statement is published voluntarily with the annual financial statements and is currently experiencing high levels of publication in South Africa, which is evidently brought about by the high political costs and significant legitimacy threats that companies operating in South Africa are facing. It was found from the literature and from a survey among management that the value added statement was primarily aimed at the employees. Employees have also been regarded as users of financial information in the literature. However, a survey among trade unions in South Africa found that almost no use is made of the value added statement even though the unions make use of other financial information. This indicates that voluntary disclosures do not necessarily satisfy the information needs of their intended audience. The research also indicates that the trade unions might not use the value added statement because they suspect that the statement is being used to reduce political costs and legitimacy threats, and is therefore not reliable. This is a major shortcoming of voluntary disclosures.
Financial statements, Disclosure (Accounting), Value added statement