The influence of cultural differences on corporate Internet reporting in three Western European Countries: a preliminary study
Faculty of Applied Economics
Antwerp :UA, 2002
Research paper / UA, Faculty of Applied Economics UFSIA-RUCA ; 2002:028
University of Antwerp
Previous research suggests that there is a rather heterogeneous use of the Internet as an instrument for investor relations and corporate reporting between companies and between countries. In this paper we investigate whether these differences in Internet reporting policies might be due to cultural differences in corporate reporting. According to Hofstede (1980) and Gray (1988), there are cultural differences between distinct groups of countries in Europe. The accounting frameworks of European countries are merely classified as more developed Latin (e.g. Belgium, France), Anglo (e.g. UK, Ireland), Germanic (e.g. Germany, Austria) and Nordic (Netherlands, Denmark). Since corporate reporting on the Internet is typically voluntary, the secretiveness of these different cultural groups may influence Internet reporting practices. Also other culturally related factors like the judicial system (code vs. common law), the shareholder vs. stakeholder approach, may influence Internet reporting practices. Our sample of 60 companies from the UK, Belgium and Germany tries to give an indication of the main cultural spectrum of Western Europe. All companies are analysed by visiting their websites if present and traceable. A prior-tested list of website features and reporting contents is used in order to determine the factors that influence Corporate Internet Reporting. The results of this study might be useful to standardising committees who consider regulating the Internet corporate reporting scene and to all other interested parties. Corporations considering to establish a website for corporate internet reporting may also find useful information in this study.