Assurance of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) reports and capital market benefits in a European setting

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"Companies increasingly face pressure by their stakeholders to inform them about the firm’s sustainability practices, which has led to a rising supply of corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports and external assurance on these reports. Due to its voluntary nature, lack of regulation and absence of generally accepted guidelines, the effectiveness of assurance is often criticized. Early evidence however does suggest that assurance may be beneficial to firms, but the relationship is not undisputed. In order to determine whether assurance is valued by the European capital markets, this thesis employs a sample of 439 European firms to explore the potential effect of several aspects of assurance on the cost of capital. Results show no relationships, indicating that the European capital markets do not value assurance and assurance therefore not leads to a lower cost of capital. Due to the absence of research on the effectiveness of assurance in European markets, this thesis contributes to the existing body of literature. The results of this thesis embrace the importance of increasing regulation and constructing general guidelines in order to enhance the effectiveness of assurance statements and consequently increase the credibility of CSR information"
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen