Date of Award
PhD in Accountancy
Department of Accountancy
This dissertation examines oversight of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) related risk and performance. These considerations are a new piece of business language, and are crucial in monitoring and evaluating the sustainable impact of modern corporations. The dissertation is comprised of three archival studies, which together contribute to an emerging accounting literature at the intersection of audit and corporate governance. The first study uses hand-collected data on voluntary board-level committees that oversee ESG-related issues to investigate the performance implications of these committees. This paper presents a theoretical framework and methodology that incorporate the committee’s role in shared value creation and the heterogeneity of ESG-related issues. When this theoretical and methodological approach is applied, I find that committees with ESG-related responsibilities do have positive performance implications. The second and third studies use a new dataset to explore accounting-related consequences of negative media coverage of ESG practices. In the second study, I find that when audit client reputation is damaged via negative media coverage, auditors respond to protect against reputation loss spillovers. Specifically, results suggest that auditors avoid undue reputation risk by resigning from engagements and reduce/share undue risk by charging higher audit fees. This study is important because it documents auditor oversight of, and response to, ESG-related risks. Further, the study answers recent calls for U.S. evidence of auditor reputation risk as a component of auditors’ risk considerations. Finally, in the third study, I investigate whether corporate boards hold CEOs publicly accountable for negative media coverage of ESG practices. Understanding board sensitivity to ESG issues, measured by their turnover decisions, is important given a rising demand for sustainable business practices. Findings of this study suggest that when ESG issues are highly publicized, CEO dismissal likelihood is higher. Overall, findings support both the importance of these issues to modern corporations and the monitoring role of the media.
Burke, Jenna J., "Environmental, Social, and Governance Risk and Performance: Implications for Audit and Corporate Governance Research". 2017. 2.