Sustainability in local governments: Disclosures in Dutch and Canadian municipal annual reports.
Although the sustainability of corporations has been of great interest to researchers to date, relatively few studies have investigated sustainability disclosures in the public sector. In recent years, the increased concern of citizens about the transparency and sustainability of government finances has incentivized the public sector to show their stakeholders they address sustainability issues, in order to meet the needs of the present and future generations. Hence, the present study explored the sustainability disclosures of municipalities in their annual reports. The study aimed to investigate the relationship between the size and country of municipalities and sustainability disclosures. Sustainability disclosures of Dutch (n = 25) and Canadian (n = 24) municipalities were measured in the present study using the GRI sustainability framework. This framework distinguishes four sustainability categories: general, economic, social, and environmental information. The present study found municipality size to be a significant predictor of the extent of sustainability disclosures, as well as the extent of economic information disclosures. Larger municipalities reported more sustainability disclosures than smaller ones. The present study did not find country to be a significant predictor of the extent of sustainability disclosures. However, country was found to be a significant predictor for three of the four sustainability categories: general, social, and environmental information disclosures. Generally, the results of the present study were only partly in line with previous research. Thus, limitations of this study were discussed as well as recommendations for future research.
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