Water disclosure and firm risk: Empirical evidence from highly water‐sensitive industries in China

In this paper, we examine the relationship between water disclosure and firm risk. Specifically, based upon a panel dataset of 334 Chinese listed firms operating in highly water‐sensitive industries during 2010–2015, we use regression models to analyze the relationships between water disclosure and three types of firm risk (i.e., total risk, systematic risk, and idiosyncratic risk) and the moderating effects of media coverage on these relationships. Our empirical results show that (a) although there are no significant relationships between water disclosure and total risk and idiosyncratic risk, there is a significant negative relationship between water disclosure and systematic risk; (b) negative media coverage weakens the negative relationship between water disclosure and systematic risk, whereas nonnegative media coverage reinforces this negative relationship. Our cornerstone study examines the effect of a specific type of environmental disclosure (i.e., water disclosure) on firm risk, and our empirical findings are different from previous studies, which examined the effects of overall corporate social responsibility (CSR) disclosure on firm risk. We analyze the causes of the differences in detail. With this study, we make theoretical, empirical, and managerial contributions to CSR disclosure–firm risk research in business ethics literature.