Corporate risk disclosure practice in Saudi Arabia: Secrecy versus transparency
International Journal of Advanced and Applied Sciences
Accounting systems and corporate disclosure practices are significantly affected by legal systems and cultural environment. The vast majority of risk reporting research concentrates mainly on Western Europe and other developed countries. However, there is a clear dearth of corporate risk disclosure (CRD) studies in developing countries in general, and in the Arab region in particular. The purpose of this study is to comprehensively explore the level and content of CRD practices in a developing
... es in a developing country with a different legal system and cultural values, namely the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. To the best of our knowledge, no such study has been performed in Saudi Arabia. Content analysis is conducted to analyze and measure CRD in the annual reports of Saudi non-financial listed companies over the period 2008-2011. The findings highlight the role of the legal system and cultural values on CRD practices and confirm the potential conflict between secrecy as a key feature of Saudi accounting system versus transparency as a key pillar of the Islamic Accountability Framework. Consistent with transparency, as an Islamic Sharia requirement, Saudi Arabia provides a moderate level of CRD among developed and developing countries. However, the content of this level is found to be of low quality as non-financial, qualitative, past, present, or non-time-specific and neutral risk disclosures far outweigh the financial, quantitative, future, and bad risk disclosures, which could reflect the inherent secrecy and the unwillingness of Saudi companies to provide high-quality risk disclosure. The findings also reveal a steady increase in the level of CRD over the period of study with a significant variation of disclosure level among industry sectors. Overall, the results suggest that Saudi regulatory bodies and companies pay more attention to the format rather than the content of CRD. The results have implication for national and international standard-setters, policy makers, investors, and researchers to understand and improve CRD practices and its determinants in Saudi Arabia.