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한국기업의 ESG활동과 배당정책

  • 정성창 전남대학교 경영학부 교수, Professor, Chonnam National University
  • 김영환 전남대학교 강사, Lecturer, Chonnam National University
본 연구는 기업의 ESG 활동이 기업의 배당수준과 안정배당정책과의 관련성에 대하여 체계적으로 연구하고자 한다. 본 연구의 ESG 활동의 대용치는 한국기업지배구조원의 ESG등급을 활용하였다. 2013년부터 2019년까지의 자료를 토대로 유가증권시장에 상장된 12월 결산 법인 중에서 비금융업을 대상으로 분석하였다. 분석결과는 첫째, 기업의 ESG활동은 기업의 배당수준에 대한 정의에 따라 미치는 영향이 상이함을 알 수 있다. 종속변수가 배당성향인 경우에는 사회등급만이 통계적으로 유의한 양(+) 의 영향을 주는 것으로 분석되었다. 반면에, 종속변수가 배당률과 배당수익률인 경우 에는 기업의 ESG 통합 등급, 환경등급, 사회등급, 지배구조등급이 유의한 양(+)의 영향을 주는 것으로 나타났다. 둘째, 기업의 ESG 활동이 기업의 배당수준에 긍정적인 영향을 주는 원인을 대리인이론의 결과가설과 수명주기이론으로 설명될 수 있음을 제시한다. 대리인 이론의 관점에서 기업의 ESG 활동이 기업의 배당성향에, 기업의 사회적 책임 활동은 배당률에 영향을 주고 있다. 수명주기이론의 관점에서 기업의 환경적 책임 활동과 사회적 책임 활동이 기업의 배당수익률에 유의한 영향을 주고 있다. 셋째, 기업의 ESG활동은 기업의 안정배당정책에도 유의한 영향을 주는 것으로 분석되었다. ESG활동이 양호한 기업일수록 상대적으로 목표배당수준이 보다 더 높은 것으로 나타났으며, 목표배당수준과 실제배당수준의 차이를 보다 더 빠르게 조정하는 것으로 나타났다.

ESG Activities and Dividend Policy in Korean Firms

  • Sung-Chang Jung
  • Young-Hwan Kim
Recently ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) activities have attracted a lot of theoretical and practical attention. With these changes, there have been an active research on corporate social responsibility activities measured by ESG and major financial strategies of companies. Related with previous research, this study seeks to systematically analyze the association between social responsibility activities and dividend policies of corporations. Studies such as Rakotomavo (2012) and Benlemlih (2019) suggest that social responsibility activities have a positive impact on dividend policy, while studies such as Pham and Jung (2020) and Ni and Zhang (2019) report that social responsibility activities have a negative effect on dividend policy. In addition, the domestic previous research has analyzed the effect of social responsibility activities on dividends by using a simple OLS regression. These studies have not considered the endogeneity problem of variables and the partial adjustment of dividends with panel data. They did not investigate the relation between corporate social activities and stability of dividends either. Studies on these topics with Korean firms are still lacking. The dividend theory has been greatly developed with signaling theory, agency theory, and life cycle theory based on the dividend-irrelevance theory of MM (1961). If the signal theory of dividends is true, it can be argued that social responsibility activities will affect dividend payout level positively (Benlemlih, 2019). If the outcome hypothesis of agency theory of dividend is true, social responsibility activities will show a positive relationship between dividend levels (Adjaoud and Ben-Amar, 2010), conversely, if substitute hypothesis of agency theory is true, social responsibility activities and dividend levels will show a negative (-) relationship (John and Knyazeva, 2006). According to life cycle theory, corporate social activities have a positive association with dividend payout (Rakotomavo, 2012). In addition, Benlemlih (2019) shows that the companies with excellent levels of social responsibility activities prefer to have more stable dividend policy in order to signal a reduction in agent costs through dividend and a sound management policy. Matos, Barros and Sarmento (2020) also show that the firms with more sustainability have more stable dividend policies by using data from the European securities market. These studies imply that social responsibility activities are expected to have a significant impact on the stability of dividend policies. This study utilizes the ESG ratings provided by the Korea Corporate Governance Service as the measures of CSR/ESG activities of firms. We collected the data from the non-financial firms listed in Korea security market during the period of 2013 through 2019. The financial data required for analysis used the KIS-VALUE database of Korea Credit Evaluation Information. The information about the major shareholders’ equity was collected from the section of ownership status in the annual reports of the firms. The samples used in this study are 4,126 firm-year unbalanced panel data. The empirical analysis was conducted by applying a fixed effect panel analysis and a two-stage fixed effects panel analysis using the industrial average of social responsibility activities as an instrumental variable for social responsibility activities to alleviate the endogenous problem of social responsibility activities. The results of the analysis are as follows: First, the empirical results show that the ESG activities of the company have different effects on dividend level according to the measures of dividend payout. When dividend payout ratio (dividend/net income) is used for the dependent variable, only the social rating has been analyzed to have a statistically significant and positive effect on dividend. On the other hand, when dividend rate (dividend/total asset) and dividend yield(dividend/stock price) are used as dependent variables, the company's ESG integration rating, environmental rating, social rating, and governance rating have been shown to have a significant and positive impact on dividend. These results shows that the increase in corporate social responsibility activities among corporate ESG activities can improve the dividend propensity of companies. Since the dividend payout ratios of Korea firms remain relatively low, it is suggested that the company's social responsibility activities should be strengthened more in order to increase dividend propensity. In addition, it can be confirmed that the company's ESG activities have a significant and positive impact on the dividend level of the company, so that the company should be more interested in ESG for sustainability. In other words, the more a company have interests in the various stakeholders of the firm, the more profitable it is for shareholders. Second, this the findings can be explained by the outcome hypothesis of agent theory and the life cycle hypothesis. The cash ratio, which is the proxy variable of the agency issue, has a significant and positive effect on dividend propensity. Cash ratio, majority shareholder equity, foreign equity have a positive association with the dividend ratios, and the majority shareholder's ownership has a significant and positive impact on dividend yield. In addition, it was also confirmed that the ratios such as operating cash flow/total assets, earned surplus/total assets, and gross operating profit/total assets, which are the proxies of life cycle theory, are significantly and positively associated with the dividend rate. The variables such as market value/book value, earned surplus/total asset, gross operating profit margin have a significant and positive impact on the dividend yield. Third, the ESG activities were analyzed to have a significant impact on the stability of dividend policy. The better the ESG activity, the higher the target dividend level, and the faster the difference between the target dividend level and the actual dividend level was adjusted. This means that the better the ESG activity, the higher the sustainability, and the higher the dividend level can be maintained. Since the company is more profitable with better ESG activity, it can be adjusted to the target dividend level more quickly.
ESG,ESG,Dividend policy,Stability of dividend policy,Agency theory,Life cycle theory