A study on the earnings response coefficient (ERC) of socially responsible firms: Legal environment and stages of corporate social responsibility

Document Type



Purpose: The purpose of the paper is to examine the corporate social responsibility (CSR) – earnings response coefficient (ERC) relation in the code-law tradition and the early stage of CSR practice to fill the research gap in the literature on CSR–ERC relation. Design/methodology/approach: The authors use an association framework for the study. They use the firms listed on Korea Stock Exchange because Korea is classified as a code-law country and most of firms in Korea are in the early stages of CSR development, and Korean samples are considered credible and stable because of the effective financial reforms initiated by Korean government in the late 1990s. The authors collected data from the two data sources: KisValue and Korea Corporate Governance Service. Findings: The authors find the following. First, CSR is negatively associated with ERC, which indicates that the ability of earnings to capture CSR implication is lower under the circumstances of the code-law and the early stage of CSR development. Second, political sensitivity (business group effect) is positively (negatively) associated with CSR–ERC relation, which means that the politically noticeable CSR concerns strengthen the CSR–ERC relation, and the inclusion of a firm in a business group weakens the CSR–ERC relation. Research limitations/implications: The paper derives theoretical implications on the quality of earnings reflecting CSR activities, provides practical implications to the investors who target international capital markets and is expected to help broaden the understanding of CSR–ERC relations in international capital markets. Practical implications: The paper provides practical implications to the investors who target international capital markets. Regarding the interpretation of accounting earnings that contain information on CSR activities, the legal origin and the CSR development stages are considered as key factors. Specifically, in the code-law and the early CSR environment, the potential benefits of CSR activities tend to be evaluated optimistically and reflected aggressively in reported earnings. Thus, if investors are in a similar international investment environment, they may need to recalibrate estimates in their decision model with additional CSR information from non-financial sources (e.g. sustainability reports). Originality/value: The paper is based on the international institutional theory and the discussion of CSR development stages. The international institutional theory states that the legal origin is one of the factors that can help explain the differential aggressiveness of reported earnings by country. In addition, the discussion of CSR stages argues that the CSR practices can be differentially implemented by CSR stages. The authors try to fill the gap in the existing literature by conducting an empirical study based on data from Korea Stock Exchange.

Publication Title

Management Research Review

Publication Date






First Page


Last Page







accounting earnings, code law, common law, corporate social responsibility, earnings response coefficient, legal environment, other management related topics, stages of corporate social responsibility