This PhD class focuses on corporate social responsibility research. The course is heavily focused on empirical research that is relevant to assessing policies related to disclosure, transparency, accountability, as well as, private and public enforcement. For that reason, the majority of papers discussed are published in accounting but we will also discuss papers published in economic and finance when they are relevant to the focus of the class.
The class covers work relevant to understanding corporate and investor behavior related to issues such as ESG ratings, race and ethnicity, gender equality, labor safety, multinational corporations’ behavior in developing countries, and the environment. We will discuss work that speaks to both the real and capital market effects of a various policies and that uses different methods (e.g., archival, survey, and experimental methods). For each topic, we will discuss the challenges with empirical evidence on the issue (e.g., how to estimate race), including underlying theory (e.g., what should be priced in capital markets), research design (e.g., addressing endogenous regulation), and data issues (e.g., data that incorporates externalities). We also discuss ideas for future research in the various areas (e.g., student research-proposal presentations).
Each week I will provide students with a set of papers on a specific topic. Except from week 1, one student will be assigned to prepare a (brief, one-page) written summary of each paper, and will be responsible for leading the discussion. I do not intend for class sessions to be lectures—more like a facilitated discussion. In weeks 8 and 9 the second half of class will be students presenting their final project, which is a research idea that must also be written up and submitted in week 10.