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Shock-Based Causal Inference in Corporate Finance and Accounting Research

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Shock-Based Causal Inference in Corporate Finance and Accounting Research


Vladimir A. Atanasov 


College of William and Mary - Mason School of Business

Bernard S. Black 


Northwestern University - School of Law; Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

March 24, 2015

Critical Finance Review, 2015, Forthcoming 
ECGI - Finance Working Paper 448/2015 
Northwestern Law & Econ Research Paper 11-08


Abstract:      

We study shock-based methods for credible causal inference in corporate finance research. We focus on corporate governance research, survey 13,461 papers published between 2001 and 2011 in 22 major accounting, economics, finance, law, and management journals; and identify 863 empirical studies in which corporate governance is associated with firm value or other characteristics. We classify the methods used in these studies and assess whether they support a causal link between corporate governance and firm value or another outcome. Only a small minority have convincing causal inference strategies. The convincing strategies largely rely on external shocks – usually from legal rules – to generate natural experiments. We examine the 75 shock-based papers and provide a guide to shock-based research design, which stresses the common features across different designs and the value of using combined designs.

 

Number of Pages in PDF File: 138

Keywords: causal inference, shock-based research design, natural experiments, legal shock, difference-in-differences, regression discontinuity, instrumental variables, event study, covariate balance

JEL Classification: K20, C10, C20

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