Corporate social responsibility
Omitted variables bias
Full recordShow full item record
AbstractPurpose - There is evidence that corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices predict higher firm value, but little evidence on which specific aspects of CSR drive this relationship. The purpose of this paper is to study this question in a sample drawn from 35 countries over 2003-2016. Design/methodology/approach - The authors employ a research design that analyzes observational data with panel data methods including ordinary least squares, firm-random effects, and firm-fixed effects. Findings - The authors find in a sample drawn from 35 countries over 2003-2016 an economically significant relationship between an overall CSR measure and firm value. The overall CSR score builds on data from Asset4 and is comprised of three indices for environmental, social, and corporate governance aspects of CSR. The authors find that the social index consistently predicts higher market value. The authors also show that the use of particular elements of CSR can lead to substantial omitted variables bias when predicting firm value. The results also suggest a similar bias in studies that focus on a single index, which captures a specific aspect of CSR, but omits the remaining aspects. Research limitations/implications - The study is subject to limitations common to observational studies. Practical implications - The authors find robust evidence that CSR predicts market value using a country-benchmarked overall CSR index. The power to predict firm value comes solely from the social dimension of this measure, which captures firm-level practices related to treatment of employees and stakeholder relations including those with customers and the broader community. Three elements drive the social index: customer/product responsibility, human rights, and employment quality. None of the remaining 12 elements significantly predicts firm vale in an empirical setting with firm-FE and extensive covariates. The authors also show that omitted aspects of CSR can easily lead to an omitted variable bias and that the magnitude of this bias is potentially greater with an OLS specification. Social implications - Among the many dimensions of CSR, only a subset drives firm value. Policies that target to improve the CSR performance of firms adopt a broader definition of CSR. Originality/value - The authors provide first-hand evidence on which specific aspects of CSR drive firm market value.