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CSR, rationality and the ethical preferences of investors in a laboratory experiment

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  • Costanza Consolandi

    ()

  • Alessandro Innocenti

    ()

  • Alessandro Vercelli

    ()

Abstract

This experimental study aims to clarify to what extent and in which direction investors react to CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) initiatives meant to upgrade the ethical standards of firms beyond the minimal requirements of law. Subjects in the laboratory were invited to invest their endowment in a portfolio of financial assets. We provided information on the expected returns of each stock and on its inclusion in an ethical index, or exclusion from it. Our findings show that subjects’ behavior appears to be a function not only of their individual pay-offs but also of the information on the ethical standards of the firms issuing stocks. Most of them, however, did not show a fully irrational behavior as they consistently correlated the share of stocks with their expected returns. We may conclude that the sizeable reaction of our sample’s investors to the inclusion of a stock in the ethical index, or its exclusion from it, is the fruit of a deliberate choice.

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Paper provided by Department of Economic Policy, Finance and Development (DEPFID), University of Siena in its series Department of Economic Policy, Finance and Development (DEPFID) University of Siena with number 0609.

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Date of creation: Aug 2009
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Handle: RePEc:usi:depfid:0609

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Keywords: ethical stock indexes; Corporate Social Responsibility; investors; experiment.;

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  1. Costanza Consolandi & Ameeta Jaiswal-Dale & Elisa Poggiani & Alessandro Vercelli, 2008. "Global Standards and Ethical Stock Indexes: the case of the Dow Jones Sustainability Stoxx Index," Department of Economic Policy, Finance and Development (DEPFID) University of Siena 0208, Department of Economic Policy, Finance and Development (DEPFID), University of Siena.
  2. Michael Jensen, 2001. "Value Maximisation, Stakeholder Theory, and the Corporate Objective Function," European Financial Management, European Financial Management Association, vol. 7(3), pages 297-317.
  3. Claus Holm & Pall Rikhardsson, 2008. "Experienced and Novice Investors: Does Environmental Information Influence Investment Allocation Decisions?," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(3), pages 537-557.
  4. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  5. Belkaoui, Ahmed, 1980. "The impact of socio-economic accounting statements on the investment decision: An empirical study," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 5(3), pages 263-283, July.
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