The role of corporate social responsibility (CSR) assurance in investors’ judgments when managerial pay is explicitly tied to CSR performance

Helen Brown-Liburd, Valentina L. Zamora

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations

Abstract

While corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports are intended to faithfully represent CSR performance, voluntarily disclosed CSR information tends to be positive, and demand is rising for both independent assurance and integrated reporting of CSR. However, the supply of CSR assurance is not widespread in the United States, and CSR performance information remains largely separated from supporting and governance information. We thus examine the role of CSR assurance when information on CSR investment level is integrated with information on whether managerial pay is explicitly tied to sustainability. While a firm may report a high level of CSR investment to indicate an authentic commitment to CSR, investors may become skeptical of reported information if managerial pay is explicitly tied to CSR performance. Such pay-for-CSRperformance provides managers with greater incentives to overinvest in CSR and thereby report strong CSR performance. In turn, investors will seek CSR assurance as a disclosure credibility signal. Accordingly, we find that, in the presence of pay-for-CSRperformance and high CSR investment level, investors’ stock price assessments are greater only when CSR assurance is also present. Our findings highlight the importance of examining CSR disclosure factor interaction effects, and provide support for the expansion of CSR assurance and integrated reporting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-96
Number of pages22
JournalAuditing
Volume34
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics

Keywords

  • Assurance services
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Investor judgments
  • Pay-for-performance

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