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When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.
Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.
This dissertation is comprised of three essays on determinants and consequences of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Transparency. Transparency refers to high quantity of material and value relevant information about ESG issues. In the first essay, we explore the relationship between our two variables of interest (i.e., audit quality and public media exposure) and ESG transparency on a sample of publicly listed Canadian firms in in the S&P/TSX Index of the Toronto Stock Exchange. Results show that audit quality and public media exposure are two main drivers of ESG transparency, hence, commitment to high quality audits and exposure to high public media coverage drive firms to be more transparent about ESG issues. Finally, as a consequence of ESG transparency, we find a negative association between ESG transparency and firm–level investment inefficiency.
The second essay examine whether the transparency of environmental and social (E&S) information affects financial analysts’ forecast properties that reflect their information set. Focusing on a sample of non-financial and non-utility U.S. firms from the S&P 500 index, results suggest that the level of transparency vis-à-vis both E&S information is negatively related to analysts’ forecast errors as well as forecast dispersion. These negative relationships become more pronounced for firms with low financial reporting quality, low media coverage, and for those with weak governance. Finally, we find that E&S transparency relates with investment efficiency essentially via analysts` information environment, which thus acts as a mediating variable. This finding is consistent with financial analysts also playing a monitoring role in capital markets.
The third essay, we investigate how a firm’s (E&S) transparency relates with its cash holdings. Focusing on a large sample of S&P 500 firms, results show that a higher level of E&S transparency implies lower firm-level cash holdings. The negative relationship is more pronounced for firms suffering from high information asymmetry, with low financial reporting quality, and for those with weak governance. Further analyses document that the two channels and mechanisms by which E&S transparency affect firm-level cash holdings are the cost of debt and financial constraints. Finally, our findings suggest that E&S transparency increases the market value relevance of an additional dollar in cash holdings.