Capital Market Consequences of Linguistic Complexity in Conference Calls of Non-U.S. Firms
Boston University - Department of Accounting
Patricia L. Naranjo
Harvard Business School
September 28, 2013
Harvard Business School Research Paper No. 2154948
We examine how linguistic complexity affects the capital market reaction to information disclosures. We define linguistic complexity as the use of non-plain English stemming from language barriers. Using transcripts from the English-language conference calls of non-U.S. firms, we find that linguistic complexity is positively associated with the language barriers in the firms’ home country. We then show that conference calls that are more linguistically complex show lower price movement, lower trading volume, and more dispersion in analyst forecasts following the calls. Our results highlight that when disclosure takes the form of verbal communication, the complexity in the narrative impacts the market reaction to the disclosure.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 54
Keywords: Complexity, Voluntary disclosure, Capital market consequences, Non-plain English
JEL Classification: G14, G15, M41
Date posted: October 3, 2012 ; Last revised: November 23, 2013
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