Softer lips tell sweeter lies – Trust rhetoric and CEO gender

49 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2019 Last revised: 27 Nov 2020

See all articles by Wolfgang Breuer

Wolfgang Breuer

RWTH Aachen University

Andreas Knetsch

RWTH Aachen University

Astrid Juliane Salzmann

Catholic University of Lille - IESEG School of Management; RWTH Aachen University - Department of Finance

Date Written: November 25, 2020

Abstract

This study investigates the perceived and actual trustworthiness and truthfulness of female managers when using rhetoric to advertise their trustworthiness in public disclosure documents. We find that the stock market reacts more favorably to trust rhetoric if the document has been prepared under the responsibility of a female CEO rather than a male CEO. We rule out that this result could be driven by female and male CEOs talking about trust in different contexts. However, inconsistently with the notion that the trust rhetoric of women managers is more truthful than that of their male counterparts, trust rhetoric does not relate to less extensive earnings manipulation if such rhetoric stems from female CEOs compared to male CEOs. Moreover, the trust rhetoric of female CEOs is not justified by a subsequent superior one-year stock performance. Our results contradict the popular notion that higher female trustworthiness or truthfulness explains gender differences in accounting behavior.

Keywords: Trust; Female CEOs; Textual Analysis; Stock Market Reactions; Earnings Management

JEL Classification: D53, D91, G14, G41, G30, M41

Suggested Citation

Breuer, Wolfgang and Knetsch, Andreas and Salzmann, Astrid Juliane, Softer lips tell sweeter lies – Trust rhetoric and CEO gender (November 25, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3447184 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3447184

Wolfgang Breuer

RWTH Aachen University ( email )

Templergraben 55
D-52056 Aachen, 52056
Germany

Andreas Knetsch (Contact Author)

RWTH Aachen University ( email )

Templergraben 55
52056 Aachen, 52056
Germany

Astrid Juliane Salzmann

Catholic University of Lille - IESEG School of Management ( email )

Socle de la Grande Arche
1 Parvis de la Defense
Puteaux, Paris 92800
France

RWTH Aachen University - Department of Finance ( email )

Templergraben 64
Aachen, 52056
Germany

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