This paper examines the voluntary social and environmental disclosures made in the annual reports of Rothmans Ltd between the years of 1955 and 1999. The first part of the paper focuses on defining legitimacy theory as it has been used in accounting research and discusses the potential of a resource based approach to testing the theory. The study then considers legitimacy theory in light of the disclosures made by Rothmans. An initial qualitative analysis certainly provides examples of expected attempts to legitimatize the corporation given the threat posed by the smoking and health debate. Initial quantitative findings contradict those expected when compared to previous studies. However, it is concluded that when the fairly extreme circumstances faced by the tobacco industry are taken into account, legitimacy theory does provide a good explanation to both the nature and amount of the disclosures observed.


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