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Information processing costs and firm-specific information flows: evidence from the launch of high-speed railway in China

Gang Zhao (School of Accountancy, Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics, Hangzhou, China)
Xin Yu (UQ Business School, The University of Queensland, Saint Lucia, Australia)
Kailun Ni (School of Accountancy, Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics, Hangzhou, China)

Asian Review of Accounting

ISSN: 1321-7348

Article publication date: 4 October 2022

Issue publication date: 9 February 2023

181

Abstract

Purpose

The findings suggest that reducing information processing costs as a result of better transportation is an important ingredient in promoting the pricing of firm-specific information. This study aims to discuss the aforementioned issue.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors adopt a difference-in-difference (DID) research design to examine the impact of information processing costs on stock price synchronicity with a sample of firms listed in the Chinese A-share market during 2007 and 2017.

Findings

This paper shows that the launch of the high-speed railway (hereafter HSR) in China is associated with lower stock price synchronicity, consistent with the theory that the HSR reduces investors’ information processing costs (cost of monitoring, acquiring and analyzing firm disclosures). This effect is more pronounced for companies located in remote areas than for those located in large cities. Further tests show that the negative association between the launch of HSR and stock price synchronicity is stronger for companies with higher information asymmetries, proxied by higher equity concentration, higher complexity and lower internal control quality.

Originality/value

This study contributes to the literature in the following three ways. First, prior literature relates the effects of geographic distance to information transmission and information asymmetry between insiders and outside investors (e.g. Coval and Moskowitz, 2001; Kang and Kim, 2008; Malloy, 2005). The authors supplement the literature by providing new empirical evidence from an exogenous shock (natural experiment), that is, the launch of HSR, that facilitates transportation and reduces information transmission costs. Second, prior studies have shown that new airline routes that facilitate transportation improve investment and productivity (e.g. Bernstein et al., 2016; Giroud, 2013). The authors extend this stream of studies by showing that the development of HSR networks reduces information processing costs, and promotes the incorporation of firm-specific information in the asset pricing. More importantly, in this study, the authors explicitly incorporate disclosure processing costs theory into our framework thus enhancing our understanding of how and why improvements in transport relate to better market outcomes.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This study was funded by the Zhejiang Provincial Natural Science Foundation of China; No. LY19G020004 and the Research Achievements of Zhejiang Association of Social Sciences; No. 2023N055.

Citation

Zhao, G., Yu, X. and Ni, K. (2023), "Information processing costs and firm-specific information flows: evidence from the launch of high-speed railway in China", Asian Review of Accounting, Vol. 31 No. 1, pp. 1-25. https://doi.org/10.1108/ARA-03-2022-0055

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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