Environmental and Social Disclosure and Firm-Level Innovation

58 Pages Posted: 10 Aug 2020 Last revised: 1 May 2021

See all articles by Brian Gibbons

Brian Gibbons

Pennsylvania State University - Department of Finance

Date Written: July 16, 2020


Complaints from institutional investors suggest that insufficient disclosure of non-financial environmental and social (E&S) policies leads to information frictions. Using the staggered introduction of 79 country-level regulations that mandate disclosure, I document that disclosing financially immaterial E&S information has material effects on firms’ investment and financing decisions. Firms domiciled in countries that mandate E&S transparency increase R&D expenditures and patenting activity after changes to disclosure. However, fixed capital investment, which is less sensitive to information frictions, does not change. This reduction in information frictions alleviates capital rationing, especially from institutional investors, resulting in increased reliance on external equity and more innovation for equity-dependent firms. It also improves shareholders’ monitoring abilities, incentivizing managers to invest in innovation. These findings coincide with investors’ complaints and suggest that the sole reliance on financial materiality disclosure standards leads to E&S-related information frictions in capital markets.

Keywords: Innovation; R&D; CSR; ESG; Sustainability; Disclosure; Information asymmetry

JEL Classification: D82, G32, G38, O32, Q56

Suggested Citation

Gibbons, Brian, Environmental and Social Disclosure and Firm-Level Innovation (July 16, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3658415 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3658415

Brian Gibbons (Contact Author)

Pennsylvania State University - Department of Finance ( email )

University Park, PA 16802
United States

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