Faculty Scholarship 1994 - Present

An Experimental Investigation of the Intentions to Accrue and Disclose Environmental Liabilities

There is ample evidence that many firms do not fully disclose environmental liabilities. Since it is likely that full disclosure of these liabilities may lead to greater accountability by a firm, it is important to identify factors related to the treatment and disclosure of these specific liabilities. This study reports on factors found to be related to the intentions of 263 financial executives to accrue and disclose environmental liabilities based on scenarios developed for this research. Using the Theory of Planned Behavior, we find that intentions to accrue and disclose environmental liabilities are positively related to an executive's attitudes, subjective norms, perceived behavioral control, and sense of obligation. We also provide evidence that the magnitude of the environmental and financial consequences has a positive, significant relation to these intentions and find that financial executives from privately held companies are less likely to accrue and disclose environmental liabilities than those from companies that are publicly traded. These findings suggest that encouraging positive attitudes toward environmental accruals and disclosures, enhancing the behavioral control of financial executives over the accrual decision, and heightening their moral obligation to disclosure these liabilities may lead to better accounting treatment and transparency of environmental matters.