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Timing effects of corporate social responsibility disclosure: an experimental study with investment professionals

Markus Arnold, Alexander Bassen and Ralf Frank

Journal of Sustainable Finance & Investment, 2018, vol. 8, issue 1, 45-71

Abstract: Companies disclose increasingly more corporate social responsibility (CSR) related information. However, CSR information is not always treated entirely rationally by capital market participants. In an experiment using experienced investment professionals, we investigate how the timing of CSR disclosure influences firm valuations by professional investors. The results suggest that CSR disclosure in a stand-alone report, temporally disconnected to firm’s financial disclosure, may lead to asymmetric anchoring, whereby simultaneous disclosure of CSR and financial information in an integrated report prevents anchoring in investors’ judgement. Investors’ asymmetric anchoring is induced by differences in cognitive effort invested in CSR information processing, which depends on whether CSR information signals future profits or losses. Our results contribute to the debate on disclosure standards for CSR information and the use of CSR information by professional investors.

Date: 2018
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