Previous academic and popular literature has raised important debates concerning the contradictory incentives for international firms to reduce their environmental impacts and offer transparent environmental information about their operations. As an exhaustive review of this literature revealed mixed and partial evidence, we compared the individual corporate environmental performance and disclosure of the 100 most international nonfinancial firms in the world to those of 16,023 firms in their industries and a group of selected firms similar to those in the group of the 100 most international in our sample. Our results show that although the top international firms have a much better record of environmental disclosure than the firms within their industries and the matched pairs, the top international firms actually show worse environmental performance than their peers. The results suggest that the top international firms seek legitimation for their environmental activities by means of voluntary disclosure.
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