Corporate social responsibility (CSR) assurance rates continue to lag behind corporate reporting of CSR activity (Blasco and King 2017), suggesting managers question whether the benefits of purchasing assurance outweigh the costs. This article summarizes a recent study by Stuart, Bedard, and Clark (2020) investigating the value of CSR assurance when a company experiences a negative event by examining how prior disclosure of management’s CSR intentions, and the decision to purchase independent assurance, influence investors’ judgments. Findings suggest investors react more favorably to management’s intention to engage in activities that increase expected future financial returns when economic times are good. In contrast, in difficult times investor preference shifts to management’s intent for activities done solely for social good as a signal of ethical culture. However, this preference disappears when disclosures are assured. Findings suggest the decision to purchase CSR assurance plays an important role in signaling management’s ethical culture.
Practitioner Summary: The Value of Assurance and Ethics in Difficult Times: Corporate Social Responsibility Disclosures and Investor Decisions
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Andrew C. Stuart, Jean C. Bedard, Cynthia E. Clark; Practitioner Summary: The Value of Assurance and Ethics in Difficult Times: Corporate Social Responsibility Disclosures and Investor Decisions. Current Issues in Auditing doi: https://doi.org/10.2308/CIIA-2020-012
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