On the Value of Corporate Social Responsibility Disclosure: An Empirical Investigation of Corporate Bond Issues in China

Journal of Business Ethics 150 (1):227-258 (2018)
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Abstract

We provide the first comprehensive and robust evidence on the relationship between CSR disclosure quality and the costs of corporate bonds in China. We find that firms with high CSR disclosure quality are associated with lower costs of corporate bonds. Our findings are robust to endogeneity issues arising from reverse causality, omitted variable bias, and the interdependencies between price and non-price terms. The negative relationship between CSR disclosure quality and the costs of corporate bonds is stronger in weak corporate governance firms and in firms located in regions with weak institutional environments. We also find that firms’ misconduct significantly mitigates the influence of CSR disclosure quality. In the additional analyses, we provide evidence that CSR disclosure can offer incremental information beyond the credit ratings. Regarding non-price terms, we conclude that firms with higher quality of CSR information are less likely to be subject to collateral terms, but they tend to include more restrictive covenants. Further analyses also show that compared with low-quality or mandatory CSR disclosure firms, bond investors perceive firms with CSR disclosures rated above “A” categories or voluntary CSR disclosure as less likely to cause asymmetric information problems and thus charge lower risk premiums. Overall, this study demonstrates that CSR disclosure quality is an important determinant that affects both price and non-price bond contract terms.

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