A study of the link between a corporation's financial performance and its commitment to ethics

Journal of Business Ethics 17 (13):1509-1516 (1998)
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Abstract

A number of studies have tested the relationship between a corporation's social and ethical performance and its financial performance. In contrast, this is the first study to demonstrate a link between overall financial performance and an emphasis on ethics as an aspect of corporate governance. It identifies the 26.8 percent of the 500 largest U.S. public corporations that, in their annual report to shareholders, commit to ethical behavior toward their stakeholders or emphasize compliance with their code of conduct. The financial performance of these corporations ranks higher than that of those who do not at a significance level of p = < 0.005, using the 1997 Business Week ranking which averages eight publicly-reported measures of historical financial performance. These findings should motivate more corporations to utilize the principles of Social and Ethical Accounting, Auditing and Reporting (SEAAR).

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