An examination of social and environmental disclosures in Nigerian oil companies

PhD Thesis


Odera, Odhiambo. 2014. An examination of social and environmental disclosures in Nigerian oil companies. PhD Thesis Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southern Queensland.
Title

An examination of social and environmental disclosures in Nigerian oil companies

TypePhD Thesis
Authors
AuthorOdera, Odhiambo
SupervisorScott, Albert
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages262
Year2014
Abstract


A review of the Social and Environmental Disclosures (SED) literature reveals that this area of accounting has been the subject of various studies in different countries, particularly in developed countries. SED does not apply universally to all countries that are in various stages of economic development and to companies that have differing levels of awareness and attitudes. SED are often perceived as a tool for communicating the social and environmental effects of a company’s actions to its relevant interest groups and to the society as a whole. Stakeholders have become increasingly concerned about the way in which companies interact with society and the environment. Consequently, the increased interest in the social and environmental impacts of companies has resulted in heightened pressure from stakeholders for SED. This study seeks to: (1) identify Nigerian host communities’ (HCs) perceptions of SED by oil companies; (2) examine the quantity and quality of SED in Nigerian oil companies; and (3) distinguish if there are differences between local and foreign oil companies in regards to their SED.

This study is divided into three parts. In the first part, identifying factors influencing and shaping HCs perceptions present fertile ground for a better understanding of community actions. Primary data was collected through semi-structured interviews from members of three HCs in the Niger Delta; Ogbunabali community in Port Harcourt (Rivers State), Biogbolo community in Yenagoa (Bayelsa State) and Ogunu community in Warri (Delta State). The interview data was recorded, transcribed and qualitatively analysed through content analysis using the NVivo 10 software program. The results show that HCs perceptions are largely informed by the contradictions of wealth generation through oil production amidst widespread poverty resulting in anger, frustration and hostility towards the oil companies. The companies are perceived as being responsible for the negative impacts of oil exploration and extraction. Perceptions regarding both the negative and positive aspects of the oil companies operations were identified. These included environmental concerns; lack of compensation; health effects; lack of social development; neglecting communities; not creating enough employment opportunities and infrastructure; and not providing community and educational support.

In the second part, this study examined the quantity and quality of SED of the oil companies. Fifteen companies listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, as well as an additional three non-listed major foreign companies (Shell, Chevron and Agip), were selected for analysis. The latter were chosen because of the scale of their operations in Nigeria. Annual Reports (AR) from 1992 to 2011 were examined using content analysis. SED activities were reported by most of the companies and by quantity, employee information was found to be the most common type of disclosure. Most SED were almost always general and limited in nature, declarative (that is, descriptive) with non-monetary quantification in terms of financial impacts. Companies are engaging in impression management to convince stakeholders, government and the HCs that they are ‘good corporate citizens’. SED quantity and quality in the environment category was found to be overwhelmingly low despite the large scale public concern expressed about the level of environmental degradation caused by the operations of oil companies.

In the third part, this study sought to distinguish SED levels by comparing local and foreign companies operating in the oil sector. It sought to identify differences between local and foreign companies’ SED practices. A Social and Environmental Disclosure Index (SEDI) was constructed to evaluate the contents of SED in AR. Furthermore, a dichotomous method was employed to identify SED sentences based on a checklist of 62 items in the SEDI. Local companies were found to provide more extent, type and nature of SED than foreign companies. However, local companies reported mostly general SED information. Results reveal that majority of the total SED in both local and foreign companies was positive news.

This study enriches the existing SED literature by examining the state of voluntary disclosures made by companies in the context of a developing country. The findings of this study provide more insights into the current status of SED in an environmentally sensitive industry.

KeywordsNigeria; environmental disclosures; social disclosures; oil; oil companies; SED; host communities; HC; Ogbunabali; Biogbolo; Ogunu; Niger Delta
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020419999. Other environmental sciences not elsewhere classified
359999. Other commerce, management, tourism and services not elsewhere classified
410404. Environmental management
Byline AffiliationsSchool of Commerce
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