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The Value-Relevance of CSR in Stock Recommendations: A Study of the Nordic Markets
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
2016 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Financial markets have many different key actors, but one of the most important ones are the financial analysts. They are considered as experts in gathering and disseminating the information that firms produce, to those that seek it, such as stock recommendations and reports on firms. Related to this is a growing interest in society toward disclosures in regards of CSR as well as ESG. There has been considerable discussion in academia of whether or not CSR can be considered to be value relevant. This is a question which relate to both institutional and legitimacy perspectives in terms of theory, but also discussions in regards to agency and stakeholder theory as well:


Has value relevance of CSR disclosures increased in stock recommendations for the Nordic markets?


Thereby, the main purpose of this thesis is to find out whether or not there has been a shifting view of CSR over time, which would be evidenced in an increasing legitimization of CSR in terms of an increasing value-relevance to financial analysts. This would also be related to a shifting institutional logic, whereby it would be possible to relate to a shift in the view of the firm and its role in society. This is both looked at purely from the starting point of the dataset to the end point, but also for two different periods of time, so as to test if there is a different view of the issue after the financial crisis. In addition to this main purpose, this thesis furthermore sets out to answer whether CSR is value-relevant or not in different subsegments, such as nations, industries and the different types of recommendations that exist.


To answer the research question, an objectivist and positivist stance is taken, which subsequently leads the authors to utilize quantitative methods and statistical analysis to the data. Here, different panel models are fitted to the data to account effects that exist within it. To explain the findings, a theoretical framework is built upon three different levels: societal, firm and individual level. Here, on the societal level theories such as institutional theory as well as legitimacy theory are dealt with. On the firm level, agency theory and stakeholder theory as well as theoretical views of CSR forms the basis, and the individual level deals with theory related to the financial analyst.


In looking at the results and the analysis, one cannot draw the conclusion that there has been a shifting view of the value-relevance of CSR. Financial analysts appear to not find it value-relevant in issuing their stock recommendations, except for two cases: namely in terms of the industrial sector Basic Materials and the Buy recommendations. In terms of Basic Materials, it appears to be value-relevant in a positive manner. In regards to the Buy recommendation, it appears to have a negative effect on the value-relevance. All in all, this thesis cannot find evidence for a value-relevance of CSR to financial analysts in the Nordic markets. Essentially, the view of it appears to be pessimistic.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. , 136 p.
Keyword [en]
CSR, ESG, value-relevance, stock recommendations, financial analysts, legitimacy theory, institutional theory, agency theory, stakeholder theory
National Category
Business Administration
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-123548OAI: diva2:946723
Educational program
Master's Programme in Finance
Available from: 2016-07-06 Created: 2016-07-05 Last updated: 2016-07-06Bibliographically approved

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