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Do Investors Care About Corporate Externalities? Experimental Evidence

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Abstract

We measure how shareholders value a firm's ethical actions via an experiment. Our findings are threefold. First, the "selfish investor hypothesis'' is strongly rejected. Participants are willing to pay $ .7 more for buying a share in a firm giving one more dollar per share to charities. Symmetrically, a firm that makes profits by exercising a negative externality of $1 on a charity is valued $.9 less than a similar company with no externality. The scaling of non-pecuniary preferences is linear: doubling the size of a social externality doubles its impact on willingness to pay. Second, the data show that whether investors are pivotal or not with regard to the ethical actions of the firm does not affect their willingness to pay. Third, when participants make investment decisions on behalf of a third party (delegation), their generosity level remains similar. Our results appear to be compatible with a utility model where non-pecuniary benefits are conditional on stock holding.
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Dates and versions

hal-02896496 , version 1 (10-07-2020)

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Jean-François Bonnefon, Augustin Landier, Parinitha Sastry, David Thesmar. Do Investors Care About Corporate Externalities? Experimental Evidence. 2020. ⟨hal-02896496⟩
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