NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Adoption of CSR and Sustainability Reporting Standards: Economic Analysis and Review

Hans B. Christensen, Luzi Hail, Christian Leuz

NBER Working Paper No. 26169
Issued in August 2019
NBER Program(s):Corporate Finance Program, Environment and Energy Program, Law and Economics Program

This study provides an economic analysis of the determinants and consequences of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability reporting. To frame our analysis, we consider a widespread mandatory adoption of CSR reporting standards in the United States. The study focuses on the economic effects of standards for disclosure and reporting, not on the effects of CSR activities and policies themselves. It draws on an extensive review of the relevant academic (CSR and non-CSR) literatures in accounting, economics, finance, and management. Based on a discussion of the fundamental economic forces at play and the key features and determinants of (voluntary) CSR reporting, we derive and evaluate possible economic consequences, including capital-market effects for select stakeholders as well as potential firm responses and real effects in firm behavior. We also highlight issues related to the implementation and enforcement of CSR reporting standards. Our analysis yields a number of insights that are relevant to the current debate on CSR and sustainability reporting and provides scholars with avenues for future research.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w26169

 
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