The Capital Market Consequences of Language Barriers in the Conference Calls of Non-U.S. Firms
Boston University - Department of Accounting
Patricia L. Naranjo
Harvard Business School
November 1, 2015
Accounting Review, Forthcoming
Harvard Business School Research Paper No. 2154948
We examine how language barriers affect the capital market reaction to information disclosures. Using transcripts from non-U.S. firms’ English-language conference calls, we find that the calls of firms in countries with greater language barriers are more likely to contain non-plain English and erroneous expressions. For non-U.S. firms that hire an English-speaking manager, we find less use of non-plain English and fewer erroneous expressions. Calls with a greater use of non-plain English and more erroneous expressions show lower intraday price movement and trading volume. The capital market responses to non-plain English and erroneous expressions are more negative when the firm is located in a non-English-speaking country and has more English-speaking analysts participating in the call. Our results highlight that, when disclosure happens verbally, language barriers between speakers and listeners affect its transparency, which in turn impacts the market’s reaction.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 50
Keywords: Linguistic complexity; Non-plain English; Voluntary disclosure; Capital market consequences; Language barriers
JEL Classification: G14, G15, M41
Date posted: October 3, 2012 ; Last revised: January 13, 2016
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