Corporate social & environmental accounting, Physical performance, and reputation: How are they related and which matters to financial decision-makers? Three empirical studies of CSR and its relation to investment decisions

  • Jeong Hwa Yeom

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Cases involving sudden environmental events, such as British Petroleum’s (BP’s) accidental oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, clearly demonstrate the causal relation between poor corporate environmental performance and abrupt loss of shareholder value. Under such circumstances, a firm’s results can be readily priced using a conventional valuation model and hence, there is a clear nexus between environmental performance and business outcomes, as represented by the firm’s financial results as well as the event impact on shareholder value through equity prices. However, in less extreme cases there is no clear evidence of there being a relationship between these elements. Further, in relation to the literature on the nature of and motivations for corporate social and environmental reporting, scant attention has been directed towards research on the usefulness of environmental performance information to financial decision makers. Moreover, such studies as there have been have delivered mixed results in the absence of a conceptual framework that is able to distinguish the quality of such reporting from underlying performance and other representations of performance, such as reputation and SRI index membership.In order to address these previous shortcomings in this field, the proposed research focuses on environmental issues to investigate whether corporate environmental performance information can be considered as an aspect of a firm’s value, in terms of equity performance and to this end three empirical studies are carried out probing the relationships, respectively, between:- corporate social responsibility (CSR) reputation and equity performance,- socially responsible investment (SRI) index membership and equity performance, and- CSR ratings and share selection in SRI versus general investment funds,whilst in each case controlling for other environmentally related factors, as well as financial performance.The findings of the first empirical study suggest that environmental reputation and physical performance measured as proxies of the corporate environmental performance have value relevance, being negatively significantly related to the stock valuation, whereas environmental disclosure (DJSI) is not value relevant to financial decision-makers, and hence, not incorporated into share prices. However, the outcomes suggest that the GRI, an alternative measure of environmental disclosure, is value relevant even though it is not incorporated into share prices. The outcomes of the second empirical study indicate that companies being added to the DJSI or the FTSE4Good index in the March announcement results in a temporary decrease in a their share price, whilst companies added in (deleted from) the September announcement of the FTSE4Good index experience a significant but temporary increase (decrease) in stock return. However, membership of SRI indices does not have value relevance. Finally, the findings from the third empirical study suggest that CSR ratings have a weak influence on the ownership holdings decisions taken by SRI fund managers and further, they show that they, on aggregate, prefer to take into account multidimensional CSR measurements when making investment choices.
Date of Award7 Dec 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorPhilip Cooper (Supervisor)


  • environment
  • performance
  • investor's investment decision
  • firm value
  • SRI funds

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