Exploring the quality of corporate governance disclosure under an “apply and explain” regime

Yuveshna Gowry, Teerooven Soobaroyen*, Ushad Subadar Agathee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: This study aims to explore the quality of corporate governance disclosure under an “apply and explain” regime in the context of an emerging economy (Mauritius), following a transition from the traditional “comply or explain” approach within the national code of corporate governance. Design/methodology/approach: The research relies on a content analysis of corporate governance disclosure in 86 annual reports of companies listed on the Stock Exchange of Mauritius for the financial periods 2018–2019 and 2019–2020, one-way analysis of variance tests and draws on the typology of corporate governance explanations developed by Shrives and Brennan (2015), focusing on specificity, location and comprehensiveness dimensions. This paper draws on legitimacy theory and the concepts of substantive and symbolic disclosures to guide the interpretation of the findings. Findings: From a specificity point of view, the disclosure index revealed significant variations, with the highest score being four times the lowest score. With regards to location and comprehensiveness, only around half of companies are making optimum use of a corporate governance report and providing explanations by principles. This paper also illustrated how some firms provided symbolic disclosures. Overall, there are disparities in the application of the code by companies, reflected in a blend of substantive and symbolic disclosures to maintain their legitimacy. Originality/Implications: This study examines “apply and explain” disclosures in a emerging economy in contrast to the “comply or explain” approach studied so far in the literature. Merely professing a “well intended” shift to the “apply and explain” approach does not necessarily lead to improvements in the quality of corporate governance disclosures. Companies, governance professionals and regulatory bodies could formulate disclosure guidance to better underpin the implications of the “apply and explain” approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1690-1715
Number of pages26
JournalCorporate Governance (Bingley)
Issue number7
Early online date15 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - 3 Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited.


  • Apply and explain
  • Comply or explain
  • Corporate governance
  • Corporate governance disclosures
  • Disclosure
  • Emerging economies
  • Legitimacy theory


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