Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 151, Issue 2, pp 473–496 | Cite as

Is there Informational Value in Corporate Giving?

  • Kiyoung Chang
  • Hoje Jo
  • Ying LiEmail author


In this article, we propose that giving in cash and non-cash (in-kind) differ in their relation with the giving firm’s future corporate financial performance (CFP) and only cash giving is associated with future CFP. Using a novel dataset from ASSET4 that differentiates corporate giving over a sample period of 2002–2012, we examine three competing hypotheses: (1) agency cost hypothesis that cash giving reflects agency cost and destroys value for shareholders, (2) investment hypothesis that cash giving is an investment by management that aims for better future return, and (3) information hypothesis that cash giving has informational value to shareholders as cash is a critical resource at a firm and giving is a decision by managers who are insiders. We find that indeed, only cash giving is positively associated with future CFP and firm value, measured by Fama–French five-factor abnormal risk-adjusted stock returns, future return on assets, and Tobin’s Q. In addition, we find that the positive association exists only between excess, i.e., unexpected, but not expected cash giving and future CFP. Our empirical findings support the information hypothesis, but neither the agency hypothesis nor the investment hypothesis, and are robust to a number of endogeneity tests, including orthogonalized cash giving, instrumental variable regression using geography-based instruments, and propensity score matching. Furthermore, we show that the positive association between future CFP and unexpected cash giving is only pronounced at firms with good governance and relatively higher sales growth where agency problems are less likely, and at firms with no alternative mechanisms to demonstrate the strength of cash flow. Additionally, we do not find evidence that suggests in-kind giving to possess any informational value.


Corporate philanthropy Cash giving Information hypothesis Agency hypothesis Investment hypothesis Corporate financial performance 



We thank Murali Chari, Rajib Doogar, Jean Kabongo, Yongtae Kim, Kevin Laverty, P.K. Sen, Keven Zhou, and seminar participants at the University of Washington Bothell, School of Business for their many valuable comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of BusinessUniversity of South Florida Sarasota-ManateeSarasotaUSA
  2. 2.Leavey School of BusinessSanta Clara UniversitySanta ClaraUSA
  3. 3.School of BusinessUniversity of WashingtonBothellUSA

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