Keeping Investors on Board: Effects of Temporal Framing on Investors’ Judgment of Corporate Social Irresponsibility
Corporate social irresponsibility (CSI) is corporate actions that negatively affect stakeholders’ legitimate claims. It generates financial risk because of the stakeholder sanctions in response to irresponsible behaviors. As a consequence, CSI is salient to short-term investors who emphasize near-term financial results. Drawing from prospect theory and the cognitive view, we explore how CEO’s temporal framing in corporate communication event influences investors’ reactions to CSI. Specifically, we argue that the loss-averse investors decrease their ownership in socially irresponsible firms. Temporal framing towards the short-term focuses investors’ attention on the risk of loss at present, thereby exacerbating investors’ exit. In contrast, framing towards the long-term diverts investors’ attention to the expectation of future gain, thus evoking aversion to loss realization and tempering the exit. Based on analysis of 14,533 firm-quarterly observations from 927 publicly-listed, non-financial U.S. companies over the period 2007-2014, we find that temporal framing towards the long-term mitigates the negative relationship between CSI and short-term investor ownership. This study explicates the role of temporal framing in risk management and extends the behavioral understanding of investor perceptions and actions.