Dimitrov, D.K. & Davey, H. (2011). Sustainable development: what it means to CFOs of New Zealand. Asian Review of Accounting, 19(1), 86-108.
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/5541
Purpose – The purpose of this research is to evaluate and better understand the Chief Financial Officers' (CFOs) role in sustainability reporting of New Zealand's (NZ) publicly listed companies. Design/methodology/approach – The research uses a questionnaire sent to the CFOs of 88 of New Zealand's largest listed companies; the CFOs were telephoned beforehand and introduced to the nature of the research and asked if they would participate. A total of 33 fully completed responses were returned. Findings – CFOs expressed their agreement with the adoption of sustainable development as they believed there were benefits to be made for their firms; the survey identified reputation enhancement and good corporate governance as the two main benefits. However they were reluctant to have their firms' information scrutinised by stakeholders. They believed that stakeholders are largely unaware of the difficulties of adopting sustainable development practices, and furthermore, stakeholders have unrealistic expectations of what their firms could achieve by adopting sustainable development. CFOs did not believe that sustainable development would cut costs and improve their profits – rather they believed that sustainable development adoption was very inconvenient as it is costly. Thus the influence for firms to adopt sustainable development practices is driven largely by non-financial factors rather than any economic gains. This corroborates earlier findings. Research limitations/implications – The research utilises primary data collected in 2008. A useable response rate of 38 per cent was achieved. The research is restricted to New Zealand listed companies. Practical implications – In gaining a deeper appreciation of where CFOs gain their understanding of sustainable development issues, and how they participate in the discourse around sustainable development, we are potentially better able to provide information to this key group of people. Originality/value – Very little research has been undertaken into how CFOs gain their knowledge about sustainability reporting nor about their views on the subject. This research attempts to fill this gap and opens the way for similar work to be undertaken overseas.
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