Social Performance and Social Media Activity in Times of Pandemic: Evidence from COVID-19-Related Twitter Activity
Corporate Governance: The International Journal of Business in Society, Forthcoming
Posted: 20 Apr 2021
Date Written: Feb 17, 2021
Purpose: The purpose of this study is to examine corporate disclosure of stakeholder-oriented actions on Twitter in response to COVID-19 during the pandemic outbreak and to empirically investigate if firms’ social performance and their financial resilience have an impact on their engagement in, and communication of, stakeholder-oriented COVID-19 actions.
Design/methodology/approach: This study scrapes a sample of tweets communicated by major global listed firms between 1 March 2020 and 30 April 2020 and identifies disclosures that mention firm engagement in stakeholder-oriented actions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Cross-sectional regression analysis is employed to examine the relationship between firms’ social performance and the number of tweets they post about stakeholder-oriented COVID-19 actions. Further, firms’ financial resilience is examined as a moderating factor of this relationship.
Findings: The results show that firms with better social performance are more likely to engage in and hence communicate stakeholder-oriented actions for the COVID-19 pandemic on Twitter. Moreover, it is evident that firms with better social performance communicate more stakeholder-oriented actions only when they belong to industries that have not been severely impacted by the pandemic.
Originality/value: This study has two important contributions. First, this study provides contemporary evidence of corporate disclosure of firms’ their stakeholder-oriented actions on Twitter in response to the COVID-19 pandemic during the initial outbreak period. Second, it reveals insights into what characteristics drive firms to engage in costly CSR activities, and promote them on social media, in a period characterized by high economic uncertainty.
Keywords: Twitter, COVID-19 pandemic, social performance, financial resilience
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