Trust, But Verify: MD&A Language and the Role of Trust in Corporate Culture
University of Notre Dame - Mendoza College of Business
University of Notre Dame
University of Notre Dame - Mendoza College of Business - Department of Finance
April 16, 2015
Forthcoming in the Journal of Business Ethics
Trust is both ethically important and essential for business but difficult to measure. This paper contributes toward clarifying the nature of trust in a way that is both conceptually helpful for ethical inquiries concerning business and pertinent to the measurement of trust as an element in organizations. Several papers hypothesize that increasing the role of trust in a corporation reduces the need for external monitoring and contracts. Assessing this important hypothesis requires a way to gauge whether a firm has a trusting corporate culture. We develop an objective measure of trust in a firm’s corporate culture by counting the number of times 21 trust-related words appear in an important kind of document: the Management Discussion and Analysis section of the annual report. We report two significant findings: that, contrary to what one might think, firms with a trusting culture frequently use audit and control-type words and that trust is positively linked with subsequent share price volatility. We propose explanations of these findings with the hope of facilitating the objective measurement of trust and enhancement of a trusting atmosphere in corporate culture.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 32
Keywords: Trust; ethics; corporate culture; corporate governance; audit; disclosures; textual analysis; monitoring
Date posted: August 16, 2014 ; Last revised: April 17, 2015
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