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Analyst coverage, corporate social responsibility, and firm risk



This article examines the empirical association between analyst coverage and corporate social responsibility (CSR) by investigating their simultaneous and causal effects, and its joint effects of CSR engagement and analyst coverage on firm risk. We find a positive association between the level and change of CSR engagement and the level and change of analyst coverage after considering simultaneity and causality. Based on the first-difference approach, we further find that the change in analyst following from the previous year affects the change in CSR in the current period, whereas the change in CSR from the previous period does not influence the change in analyst following in the current period. Furthermore, we find that the change in CSR engagement as well as the interaction effect of changes in CSR and analyst coverage reduces the change of firm risk. When we examine the CSR strengths and concerns separately, analyst following does not significantly influence firms’ CSR strength but CSR concern activities decreases significantly as firms have more analyst followings. We further find the mediating role of financial analysts between CSR concerns (but not CSR strengths) and firm risk. We maintain that analysts provide indirect but additional social pressure to the firms to eventually reduce their irresponsible activities. Taken together, we interpret these results to support the stakeholder theory-based conflict-resolution explanation that considers CSR engagement as a vehicle to reduce conflicts of interest between managers and noninvesting stakeholders but not the overinvestment hypothesis that views CSR as a waste of valuable resources at the cost of shareholders.