The Effects of Human Capital and Voluntary Human Capital Disclosures on Investors' Decision-Making and Assessments of Firm Value
Saucedo, Gabriel D
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A common cliché found in annual reports is "our employees are our most important, valuable asset." While many companies claim human capital is an important asset and source of valuable earnings, there is nary a human asset found in financial statements. This research paper investigates the usefulness and importance of voluntary human capital disclosures. The 2 X 2 X 2 experiment manipulates firm financial performance, non-GAAP voluntary disclosures, and disclosure attestation to identify the extent to which human capital disclosures influence investor decision-making related to assessments of management credibility and firm value. The research described in this dissertation also investigates the interactive effects of auditor attestation on voluntary disclosure. The primary hypothesis examines whether firms providing strong human capital disclosures will have higher credibility ratings and stock price associations than firms not providing such disclosures. I find that when presented with human capital metrics, investors' assessments of credibility and firm stock price are attenuated by human capital disclosures, especially during periods of strong financial performance. Results also suggest investors key in on both non-financial and financial human capital metrics. Based on cognitive processing time, analyses indicate investors spend more time processing strong human capital disclosures. Another important hypothesis examines if firms receiving attestation services over voluntary human capital disclosures will have higher credibility ratings than firms not receiving such services. I find some evidence investors cognitively acknowledge the presence of auditor attestation reports when they are presented, and both credibility and stock price assessments are impacted by attestation services. Overall, the original research described here makes a contribution to the existing literature by providing unique insight as to how human capital information is viewed by investors. Current reporting standards focus on financial assets, physical assets, and technological/intellectual property. This can result in significant transparency issues when publicly traded firms fail to adequately disclose human capital risks. Organizations undoubtedly have substantial unreported human capital benefits and risks, which can have a potentially significant market valuation impact. The research conducted and reported in this paper illuminates the potential benefits of human capital disclosures to both internal and external firm stakeholders.
- Doctoral Dissertations