Segment reporting and trade unions in South Africa.
Peters, Linda Dawn.
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During the early 1970's two trends emerged in the South African business environment. The first trend was that the number of diversified enterprises started increasing, and the second trend was that there was a steady increase in the activities and power of trade unions. These two trends were considered during the evaluation of prior research on the topic of segment reporting. Prior research on segment reporting focused on the usefulness of segment reporting, the problems associated with segment identification, the objections to providing segment information, and the extent to which diversified companies disclose segment information. Using the trends identified and the prior research, the research problem developed was as follows: are the segment disclosures of South African listed companies sufficient to meet the information needs of trade unions in South Africa, and if not, what additional information do trade unions require? The research problem was limited to listed companies as it was identified that trade unions may experience difficulty in obtaining information which is not available to the general public. In addressing the problem, the following three objectives were formulated: (i) to determine if trade unions use segment information, (ii) to determine what their requirements are in respect of segment information, and (iii) if trade unions do not use segment information, to determine why segment information is not used. In order to achieve these three objectives, it was necessary to conduct a survey of trade unions on their use of segment information. This survey was undertaken as a series of replicative case studies with the primary data being obtained by means of interviews. Generalisations were then made about the use that trade unions make of segment information. The main conclusions to this research were: (i) trade unions use segment information unless they are part of a national bargaining forum, (ii) trade unions consider segment information to be at least as useful as consolidated information, and (iii) trade unions use segment information primarily to form the basis for wage negotiations and to assess overall company performance. Once these conclusions had been drawn, the results were compared to results of a survey of investment analysts in South Africa, and evaluated against proposals contained in the International Exposure Draft (E51) on segment reporting. There were similarities between the segment itnformation needs of trade unions and investment analysts, although the trade unions required more information regarding employees and the remuneration of management. Trade unions also indicated that the proposals contained in the exposure draft would be acceptable, although the unions would require more employee information on a segment basis to be disclosed. Thus, the research project achieved its objectives. In addition, areas for further research within the area of segment reporting were identified.
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