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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Advances in Accounting, Volume 28, Issue 1, June 2012, Pages 1–10
This study reports the results of semi-structured interviews conducted to explore the factors affecting Jordanian listed firms' decisions on whether or not to have a corporate website and, if so, whether or not to use it in investor relations activities. Corporate interviewees noted that the decision to have an online presence was motivated by a desire to enhance the company's image and reputation, and the need to re-brand the company was often a key event triggering website adoption. Particularly important here were international influences, whether international partners, shareholders or competitors. However, in all cases, top management support was essential and played a key role in influencing the ways in which companies use their website both in general and for investor relations activities in particular. Results also revealed that the key factor explaining the lack of a corporate website was the attitude or belief of management. Of key importance was their belief that stakeholders, including Jordanian stock market participants, are not yet ready or willing to use the internet to acquire information about the company. Some interviewees similarly concluded that there is no demand for investor relations information on corporate websites because the Jordanian Securities Commission publishes all listed companies' annual reports on its own website. Other factors explaining the lack of a corporate website were management change, absence of competition and having been listed on the Jordanian stock exchange for a long period. This research extends our understanding of disclosure on the internet by considering a different research setting, namely Jordan, and also by extending the theoretical framework used.
The presence of the internet as a channel for disseminating information enables companies to use this technology in several corporate activities, including investor relations. As a key ingredient of overall strategic management responsibility, investor relations (IR) can be viewed as a link between a company and the financial community, allowing them to, inter alia, reach a fairer valuation of the company's share price (Marston & Straker, 2001). Features of the internet (in particular, timeliness, accessibility and cost) allowed companies to perform IR in a more efficient and cost-effective way (Kuperman, 2000). Moreover, there is open access to the internet, so the use of corporate websites for IR activities should not only increase the information available to current and potential investors, but will also increase public awareness and the market's overall transparency.2 However, despite an increasingly globalized world and the growth of information and communication technologies (ICT), many developing countries still face restrictions on access and diffusion of technologies when compared with developed countries (Al-Jaghoub & Westrup, 2003). These obstacles can be attributed to political and social conditions as well as corporate-specific features. Jordan is a developing middle-income country which has few natural resources but highly educated human resources. Recent years have witnessed a number of governmental initiatives motivating individuals and companies to enter the online era. The increasing attention given by the government to building a new ICT foundation led, for example, to the establishment of the Ministry of Information and Communication Technologies in 2002. Jordan also has a well-established and sophisticated financial market that has made information availability and transparency a first priority to keep investors updated and protected from negative surprises. This has led the level of non-Jordanian investments in the Amman Stock Exchange (ASE) to exceed 40% in the last decade. The potential of the internet to enhance communication with investors has also been seen by the regulators of the Jordanian financial market. As a result, the three arms of the Jordanian financial market, namely, the ASE, the Securities Depository Centre (SDC), and the Jordanian Securities Commission (JSC), have recently utilized their websites to publish information relevant for the financial market participants, and listed companies must make their annual reports available via the ASE website. The combination of the ICT initiatives of the Jordanian Government and the actions taken by the financial market regulators to keep the financial market transparent makes Jordan an interesting country to examine via interviews the motivations to use, or not use, the internet as an investor relations tool. While the determinants of web-based disclosures have been examined thoroughly in prior studies, most of these were quantitative, focusing only on companies with corporate websites (see for example, Abdelsalam and Street, 2007, Ashbaugh et al., 1999, Bollen et al., 2006, Craven and Marston, 1999, Ettredge et al., 2002, Ezat and El-Masry, 2008, Kelton and Yang, 2008, Marston and Polei, 2004 and Oyelere et al., 2003; and Xiao, Yang, & Chow, 2004). The few qualitative studies examining the determinants of organizational innovativeness (including the adoption of websites) were primarily conducted in developed countries where the relevant technologies are well established and markets are highly competitive. As a result, factors influencing the decision to create, or not create, a website presence and to use this for IR activities in a developing country have been very largely ignored in prior studies. Different outcomes might be observed in this study, where cultural, economic, and technological differences may all be important. Internet reporting is viewed in this study as an investor relations tool, and the institutional** and diffusion of innovation theories are employed to help explain corporate behavior. The remainder of this paper is organized as follows. Section 2 discusses theories explaining internet reporting. Section 3 reviews relevant prior research. Section 4 describes the research methodology employed in this study. Section 5 reports the results, and Section 6 concludes.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
This paper has explored the factors affecting Jordanian listed companies' decisions on whether or not to have a corporate website and, if so, whether or not to use it in IR activities. In respect of this, 12 semi-structured interviews were conducted with corporate personnel involved in website reporting. The interviews highlighted a number of important factors encouraging website usage, including the level and type of competition in the market, compatibility with the company's needs, and the need to address new markets, clients or shareholders. Nevertheless, having top management support was the driving force, initiating the decision. In all observed cases, the adoption of a website was clearly the result of top management recommendation. On the other hand, it was found that having a monopolistic position in the market means companies are more reluctant to adopt new technologies, while having to deal with other important problems such as an unstable operating environment meant that otherwise innovative managers postponed the decision to construct a website. These results support the propositions of the institutional and diffusion of innovations theories in explaining website adoption. In addition, signaling theory was supported in distinguishing adopters from non-adopters. However, even when websites were, from day one, used to disseminate IR-related materials, website adoption was driven mainly by market-based factors rather than by IR considerations. This research extends our understanding of disclosure on the internet by considering a different research setting, namely Jordan, and also by extending the theoretical framework used. Jordan is particularly interesting as, despite both government emphasis upon web-based infrastructure investment and significant foreign investments in listed companies, the internet is still not used by all large companies.