Abstract

This study is an examination of the relationship between ethical behavior, corporate social responsibility, and firm value in companies in the oil and gas industry. The considerable social impact of the behaviors and actions of oil and gas companies and their undeniable weight in the overall economy drive the purpose of this research. Ethical behavior and social responsibility of the sampled oil and gas companies will be conceptualized by a series of ethical and social indexes used to carry out empirical observations representing those concepts. Each social index will be analyzed using statistical data analysis techniques to establish if there is any significant relationship with the firm's value. This research presents empirical evidence examining whether, along with other standard factors, corporate social responsibility is associated with the firm value of companies in the oil and gas industry.

Introduction

The year 2002 will be remembered for its astonishing corporate admissions of fraud and accounting wrongdoings. Disclosures at Enron, WorldCom, and other companies have shocked the equity markets and sent many investors looking for safer places to invest their money. Furthermore, trusted brokers have made immense profits from using confidential or insider's information to make investments in shares or to get rid of such investments. Economics is being accused of leaving out ethical considerations and focusing on pure technology at the expense of human values. Economic theory has been blamed for influencing business to focus on profit maximization in a very narrow sense. All these recent events have brought a higher public awareness to business ethics and corporate social responsibility issues.

The mass media often reports on instances of deficiencies in business ethics. Disclosures of these unethical behaviors have recently placed ethical issues higher on the agenda and have contributed to creating new awareness of these issues. Although much work has been accomplished to date to address business ethics issues, it is clear that much more remains to be done. This study is an examination of the relationship between ethical behavior, corporate social responsibility, and firm value in companies in the oil and gas industry. The considerable social impact of the behaviors and actions of oil and gas companies and their undeniable weight in the overall economy drive the purpose of this research. Ethical behavior and social responsibility of the sampled oil and gas companies are conceptualized by a series of ethical and social indexes used to carry out empirical observations representing those concepts. The set of social indexes are analyzed using a multiple regression model to establish if they show any significant relationship with the firm's value. This study expands the knowledge base of business ethics theories and the corporate social responsibility (CSR) construct. The research presents empirical evidence examining whether, along with other standard factors, corporate social responsibility is associated with firm value of companies in the oil and gas industry.

Statement of the Problem

The problem addressed in this study was to determine the extent to which business ethical behavior and corporate social responsibility impact firm value in companies in the "Oil and Gas Extraction" industry. Firm value in this study is defined as Return on Equity (ROE) or approximate Tobin's Q ratio (ATQ) in the year 2003. Although definitions of corporate social responsibility vary, they all imply that a corporation has responsibilities to society that transcend the production of products and services at a profit. As Frederick1 argued, companies are more than economic institutions and they have a responsibility to help society to solve pressing social problems by devoting resources to the solution of these problems. The concept of social responsibility is, essentially, an ethical concept.

The research questions of the study are:

  1. What is the relationship between ethical behavior and firm value in companies in the oil and gas industry?

  2. What is the relationship between companies' efforts to minimize their impact on the environment and firm value in companies in the oil and gas industry?

  3. What is the relationship between companies' efforts to embrace diversity and firm value in companies in the oil and gas industry?

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