Does Religion Matter in Corporate Decision Making in America?
Georgetown University - Department of Accounting and Business Law
Kai Wai Hui
The University of Hong Kong (HKU) - Department of Accounting
October 1, 2008
Journal of Financial Economics (JFE), Forthcoming
We examine how corporate culture influences firms' behaviors and, more specifically, how the level of religiosity in a firm's environment affects its investment decisions. We focus on one country (the U.S.) to minimize differences in legal and economic environments. Prior research suggests a positive link between individual religiosity and risk aversion. We find that this relation also influences organizational behavior. Specifically, firms located in counties with higher levels of religiosity display lower degrees of risk exposure as measured by variances in equity returns or in returns on assets. In turn, such firms require a higher internal rate of return before investing. They exhibit a lower rate of investment either in tangible capital or in R&D but generate a more positive market reaction when they announce new investments. Their long-term growth is also lower. Finally, we document that CEOs are more likely to join firms with similar religious environment as their last firm when they switch employers. All results are both economically and statistically significant. They are robust to many alternative specifications that minimize the risk of omitted variables or endogenous relations.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 64
Keywords: Corporate investment, risk aversion, corporate culture, religion
JEL Classification: G3, G31
Date posted: October 14, 2008