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Does Corporate Social Responsibility Lead to Superior Financial Performance? A Regression Discontinuity Approach

Caroline Flammer ()
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Caroline Flammer: Ivey Business School, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario N6G 0N1, Canada

Management Science, 2015, vol. 61, issue 11, 2549-2568

Abstract: This study examines the effect of shareholder proposals related to corporate social responsibility (CSR) on financial performance. Specifically, I focus on CSR proposals that pass or fail by a small margin of votes. The passage of such “close call” proposals is akin to a random assignment of CSR to companies and hence provides a quasi-experiment to study the effect of CSR on performance. I find that the adoption of close call CSR proposals leads to positive announcement returns and superior accounting performance, implying that these proposals are value enhancing. When I examine the channels through which companies benefit from CSR, I find that labor productivity and sales growth increase after the vote. Finally, I document that close call CSR proposals differ from non-close proposals along several dimensions. Accordingly, although my results imply that adopting close call CSR proposals is beneficial to companies, they do not necessarily imply that CSR proposals are beneficial in general.Data, as supplemental material, are available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.2014.2038 . This paper was accepted by Wei Jiang, finance .

Keywords: corporate social responsibility; financial performance; regression discontinuity; shareholder proposals (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015
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