November 2019, Paper, "Despite the rising use of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) ratings in financial markets, there is substantial disagreement across rating agencies regarding what rating to give to individual firms. As what drives this disagreement is unclear, we examine the extent to which a firm’s ESG disclosure and average ESG rating explain this disagreement. Contrary to conventional wisdom that greater disclosure helps reduce disagreement, our findings suggest that greater ESG disclosure leads to greater disagreement across ESG rating agencies. These findings hold using firm fixed effects, changes models, and using a difference-in-differences design with staggered mandatory ESG disclosure shocks. We also find that rating disagreement is greater when firms have high or low average ESG ratings, relative to firms with medium average ESG ratings. Overall, our findings highlight the difficulty that firms face in resolving ESG rating disagreement and the need for developing rules and norms for evaluating ESG information."
Non-HKS Author Websites - George Serafeim, Anywhere Sikochi