ESG in URLs : A Novel ESG Measure An Empirical Analysis of Firms' ESG Disclosure
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- Master Thesis 
This thesis studies firms' incentives to increase ESG disclosures in anticipation of adverse ESG events. We argue that transparent ESG disclosure before adverse events may mitigate the market reaction as it reduces information asymmetries about ESG risk between shareholders and firms. Empirically, we introduce a novel measure assessing firms' ESG disclosure based on historical snapshots of webpages of 469 firms during the period 2007 to 2020. Using URLs allows us to obtain updated information as webpages can change regularly, making it a timelier measure to capture disclosure trends than, for instance, annual reports. Contrary to our main hypothesis, we find that executives withhold information about their ESG risks before adverse ESG events. In addition, ESG disclosure before events worsens the market's response. This thesis expands the theoretical understanding of disclosure using qualitative data from the Wayback Machine, as we are among the first to perform textual analysis on URLs.