Factors influencing disclosures of statements of service performance of New Zealand local authorities
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The purpose of this paper is to provide an understanding of the influential factors that may affect disclosures in the statements of service performance (SSPs) on wastewater services by New Zealand local authorities.
Drawing on neo-institutional sociology theory, coercive power from the authoritative requirements, the authors investigate the impact of this primary pressure on SSP reporting. A disclosure index is used to measure the level of correspondence of SSPs with the authoritative requirements. Based on prior research, influential factors were quantified to examine their association with the disclosures, using regression analysis.
The results indicate that the coercive pressure alone, without the support of mimetic and normative pressures, has had little influence on disclosure practice, with the majority of local authorities not adhering to the authoritative requirements. Political competition, size of constituency, constituency sophistication, political visibility, staff availability, personal attributes of accounting staff and financial resource availability are identified as likely influential factors for the SSPs. Size, proxied by total assets, proves to be significantly associated with the SSP reporting correspondence.
The results from the analysis of wastewater disclosures may have limited generalizability to other activities’ disclosures. Nevertheless, wastewater services are considered a critical activity and are expected to be prepared with expertise. Therefore, it is likely that the reporting capability of wastewater services will extend to other activities’ disclosures.
The findings reported provide evidence that the authoritative requirements for SSP reporting need further development, smaller local authorities and outsourcing local authorities need more assistance in preparing SSPs and audit reports can be more informative in identifying non-compliance with the authoritative requirements for SSPs.
The paper investigates a range of factors that influence the SSP reporting by the New Zealand Government and opens new research opportunities for other influential factors. Such findings may provide further help to regulators and reporting entities in improving the SSP reporting practice.
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This document has been peer reviewed.