COVID-19 Disclosures in Annual Reports
Iddamalgoda Mohotti, Rajitha
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The devastating effects of COVID-19 that led to continued uncertainty for businesses escalate the importance of crisis-related vis-à-vis pandemic-related disclosure studies. This study aims to understand the types of COVID-19 related disclosures made by New Zealand listed companies, why the companies disclosed such information, and determine whether those disclosures reflect through their performances. The findings of this study have given rise to numerous pathways for future studies. Moreover, the researcher has examined whether COVID-19 has influenced the level of disclosures and earnings management. This study has based agency, stakeholder, political, and prospects theories for the development of hypotheses. The findings reveal that companies disclosed more about uncertainty, effects on performance, liquidity management, substantial impairments of assets, extended customer support, ceased dividend payments, and most importantly, health and safety of the employees and customers. The results suggested that the overall level of disclosures has increased in the year 2020 irrespective of essential or non-essential services. Following the previous literature, the results indicated that firm size and the number of board meetings are significantly associated with the change in disclosures. Moreover, the results revealed positive signs of earnings management. According to the regression results, COVID-19 has influenced the companies to have more discretionary accruals. However, the results revealed that board members with accounting expertise reduce discretionary accruals. Pandemic-related disclosure studies will be necessary for the regulators and accounting policymakers to understand the corporate disclosure culture and behavior in times of pandemics and other crises. It will also help managers understand what disclosures are relevant for better transparency of their firms in a crisis setting.