Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has several dimensions that are inherently unobservable or measured with errors. Due to measurement errors of CSR proxies, regression analysis seems inappropriate for investigating the relationship between CSR and firm value. Accounting for CSR measurement errors, the purpose of this paper is to use a latent variable analysis to examine whether CSR affects firm value.
This study applies a latent variable model that directly takes into account the measurement errors of CSR proxies. Moreover, the inclusion of firm-fixed effects in the model controls for time-invariant unobservable firm-specific characteristics that may drive both CSR and firm value. CSR is measured by environmental, social, and corporate governance activities.
Based on data of US firms between 2002 and 2014, this study finds conflicting evidence of a direct association between each CSR proxy and firm value. When all CSR proxies are incorporated into a latent variable model, CSR significantly positively impacts firm value. Therefore, CSR strategies based on a single measure of CSR or the equal weighting of CSR measures tend to underestimate the influence of CSR on firm value.
Corporate managers should enhance firm value by simultaneously engaging in environmental, social, and corporate governance activities because there is a synergistic effect with firm value. Furthermore, investors who downplay CSR factors in firm valuation can lead to significant errors in making equity investment choices.
This study presents a novel examination of the price-earnings ratio in the CSR valuation by using the latent variable model with firm-fixed effects.
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