Corporate political activism, information transparency, and IPO compliance costs

Gounopoulos, Dimitrios and Loukopoulos, Georgios and Loukopoulos, Panagiotis (2024) Corporate political activism, information transparency, and IPO compliance costs. Journal of Business Finance & Accounting, 51 (1-2). pp. 240-275. ISSN 0306-686X (

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Due to their covert and often dubious nature, corporate political activities may encourage or facilitate opportunistic behaviors. Yet, they also subject firms to heightened visibility, which brings greater public and regulatory scrutiny. Using a hand-collected data set of politically connected US initial public offerings (IPOs), we investigate how this tension shapes the financial reporting incentives of firms going public and the accompanying direct compliance costs. Consistent with the agency view of corporate political activism (CPA), politically active IPO issuers have worse financial reporting quality, more litigation risk and eventually pay 28% more accounting fees than their peers. Additional analysis exploiting the US Supreme Court's landmark ruling on Citizens United versus Federal Election Commission suggests that the link between CPA and IPO accounting fees is likely to be causal. Finally, our evidence indicates that the involvement of specialized financial intermediaries in the political process has implications for the IPO financial reporting quality.