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Corporate flexibility in a time of crisis

Author

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  • Barry, John W.
  • Campello, Murillo
  • Graham, John R.
  • Ma, Yueran

Abstract

We use the COVID shock to study the direct and interactive effects of several forms of corporate flexibility on short- and long-term real business plans. We find that i) workplace flexibility, namely the ability for employees to work remotely, plays a central role in determining firms’ employment plans during the health crisis; ii) investment flexibility allows firms to increase or decrease capital spending based on their business prospects in the crisis, with effects shaped by workplace flexibility; and iii) financial flexibility contributes to stronger employment and investment, in particular when fixed costs are high. While the role of workplace flexibility is new to the COVID crisis, CFOs expect lasting effects for years to come: high workplace flexibility firms foresee continuation of remote work, stronger employment recovery, and shifting away from traditional capital investment, whereas low workplace flexibility firms rely more on automation to replace labor.

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  • Barry, John W. & Campello, Murillo & Graham, John R. & Ma, Yueran, 2022. "Corporate flexibility in a time of crisis," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 144(3), pages 780-806.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jfinec:v:144:y:2022:i:3:p:780-806
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jfineco.2022.03.003
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    Cited by:

    1. TOMIURA Eiichi & KUMANOMIDO Hiroshi, 2022. "Impacts of Inter-firm Transaction and Ownership Relationships on the Adoption of Remote Work: Evidence from a survey in Japan during the COVID-19 pandemic," Discussion papers 22053, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    2. John R. Graham, 2022. "Presidential Address: Corporate Finance and Reality," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 77(4), pages 1975-2049, August.
    3. Gao, Haoyu & Wen, Huiyu & Wang, Xingjian, 2022. "Pandemic effect on corporate financial asset holdings: Precautionary or return-chasing?," Research in International Business and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 62(C).
    4. Barth, Erling & Bryson, Alex & Dale-Olsen, Harald, 2022. "Creative Disruption: Technology Innovation, Labour Demand and the Pandemic," IZA Discussion Papers 15762, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Corporate flexibility; Investment flexibility; Corporate planning; Corporate decision-making; COVID-19; Automation; Work from home; Remote work; Crisis; Investment; Employment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • G30 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - General
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • D22 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Empirical Analysis
    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • E22 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity
    • M12 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Personnel Management; Executives; Executive Compensation
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance

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