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The impact of corporate social responsibility on financial distress: evidence from developing economy

Muhammad Farooq (School of Business Management and Administrative Sciences, The Islamia University of Bahawalpur, Bahawalpur, Pakistan)
Amna Noor (School of Business Management and Administrative Sciences, The Islamia University of Bahawalpur, Bahawalpur, Pakistan)

Pacific Accounting Review

ISSN: 0114-0582

Article publication date: 16 June 2021

Issue publication date: 13 August 2021

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243

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to explore the role of corporate social responsibility (CSR) on the likelihood of financial distress for a sample of 139 Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) listed firms throughout 2008–2019.

Design/methodology/approach

The dynamic generalized method of moments (GMM) estimator is used to examine the impact of CSR on financial distress. The investment in CSR is measured through a multidimensional financial approach which comprises the sum of the contribution made by the company in the form of charitable donation, employees’ welfare and research and development, while the Altman Z-score is used as an indicator of financial distress. The higher the Z-score, the lower will be the probability of financial distress.

Findings

The authors find a significant positive impact of CSR on financial distress in GMM model. This finding is consistent with the shareholder view and over-investment hypothesis of CSR as management makes an investment in CSR to get personal benefits, which resultantly leads the firm toward financial distress state. Further, this positive relationship remains present for firms having strong involvement in foreign business through exports.

Research limitations/implications

Like other studies, the present study is not free from limitations. First, financial firms are skipped from the sample, although literature witnesses a lot of studies highlight the financial firms’ commitment to achieving CSR goals. Second, financial distress occurs in different stages, and this study fails to establish a linkage between CSR engagement at different stages of financial distress. In the future, researchers can make valuable addition by covering these missing links in present studies.

Practical implications

Findings suggest several practical implications. For policymakers, they should encourage firms to adopt more socially responsible behavior as it not only prevents them from distress but also comes with better investment behavior, minimize bankruptcies and make economies more strong and stable. Second, results suggest corporate managers emphasize socially responsible behavior as its benefits are beyond the “societal benefits” as it lessens financial distress through lower cost of debt, lesser financial constraints and reduced cost of information asymmetry, and it minimizes the cost of capital. Lastly, investors make risk premium assessments related to future earnings by determining the likelihood of financial distress in the future.

Originality/value

The study extends the body of existing literature on CSR and the likelihood of financial distress in Pakistan, which is according to the best knowledge of the authors, not yet studied before. The results suggest that policymakers may pay special attention to the quality of CSR while predicting corporate financial distress.

Keywords

Citation

Farooq, M. and Noor, A. (2021), "The impact of corporate social responsibility on financial distress: evidence from developing economy", Pacific Accounting Review, Vol. 33 No. 3, pp. 376-396. https://doi.org/10.1108/PAR-10-2020-0196

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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