The Cost (and Unbenefit) of Conscious Capitalism
63 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2021
Date Written: September 16, 2021
This paper examines the costs and benefits of ‘stakeholder governance’ for shareholders and other stakeholders by using the adoption of constituency statutes as a quasi-exogenous shock to corporate governance. Constituency statutes permit board members to consider all stakeholder interests, relaxing fiduciary duty to only shareholders. Using a sample of U.S. publicly traded firms (1981-2010) and employing a difference-in-difference methodology, we find that the discretionary adoption of ‘stakeholder governance’ leads to managerial entrenchment and a reduction in institutional ownership and shareholder wealth with little to no ‘trade-off’ benefits to other stakeholders. As states adopted constituency statutes, signs of managerial entrenchment increased (proxied by significant declines in earnings transparency and jumps in CEO and Director compensation) as did harm to shareholder wealth and to governance through institutional ownership. At the same time, we do not observe potential ‘trade-off’ benefits to the non-shareholder stakeholders these statutes were intended to help; we find that labor, customers, and creditors only marginally benefited (if at all) from the introduction of these statutes. These results are robust to a battery of checks including the biasedness in the staggered DiD estimator.
Keywords: Conscious Capitalism, Stakeholder Governance, Managerial Accountability, Corporate Transparency, Constituency Statutes
JEL Classification: G30, L51
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation