Greenwashing during Uncertain Times
53 Pages Posted: 23 Mar 2021
Date Written: January 21, 2020
We use a unique database that includes selective environmental disclosures to examine the impact of economic policy uncertainty on corporate greenwashing in the US. Our results suggest that during periods of heightened EPU firms reduce their greenwashing, as they appear to disclose more information that is important rather than benign with respect to their environmental performance. We further validate this new evidence by showing that, in response to increased political uncertainty around gubernatorial elections, firms engage in more substantive rather than symbolic environmental disclosures. In addition, our cross-sectional analyses show that the relation between EPU and greenwashing varies with the extent of an industry’s political sensitivity, intensity of industry competition, firm age, financial constraints, and information quality. Our novel evidence survives extensive robustness tests. Overall, our study suggests that uncertainty over government policies reduces firms’ incentives to engage in deceptive environmental reporting.
Keywords: greenwashing; economic policy uncertainty; selective environmental disclosure; industry competition; political risk; gubernatorial elections
JEL Classification: G3, G32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation