Dr Kai Li, Senior Associate Dean, Equity and Diversity, Professor of Finance, and W. Maurice Young Endowed Chair in Finance, UBC Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia

After fitting a topic model to 40,927 COVID-19-related paragraphs in 3,581 earnings calls over the period 22 January to 30 April 2020, we obtain measures of firm-level exposure and response to COVID-19 for 2,894 US firms. We show that despite large negative impacts of COVID-19 on their operations, firms with a strong corporate culture do better in the midst of a pandemic than their peers without a strong culture. Moreover, firms with a strong culture are more likely to support their community, embrace digital transformation, and develop new products, whereas are no more likely to cut costs, than their peers without a strong culture. To explore the channels through which culture makes firms resilient to the pandemic, we show that firms with a strong culture have higher sales per employee and lower cost of goods sold per employee during the first fiscal quarter since the pandemic hit. Our results support the notion that corporate culture is an intangible asset designed to meet unforeseen contingencies as they arise (Kreps 1990).

Speaker bio

Dr Li is Senior Associate Dean, Equity and Diversity, Professor of Finance, and holds the W. Maurice Young Endowed Chair in Finance at the UBC Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia.

Dr Li’s research focuses on the economic consequences of corporate governance mechanisms. Her current research projects explore: (1) human capital and technological synergies in mergers and acquisitions, (2) machine learning in finance, and (3) rent extraction in syndicated loans market. Her research has appeared in Journal of Finance, Journal of Financial Economics, Review of Financial Studies, Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Management Science, Journal of International Business Studies, and many other leading journals in finance and economics.

She is the recipient of the UBC Killam Research Award, the Sauder School of Business Research Excellence Award, the Barclays Global Investors Canada Research Award, and the Best Paper Award at many international conferences. She is/has been on the Editorial Board of Review of Financial Studies, Review of Finance, Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Management Science, Journal of International Business Studies, Journal of Corporate Finance, Journal of Financial Stability, and Journal of Banking and Finance. Her research has been featured in Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Financial Times, The Time Magazine, Reuters, CNBC, Bloomberg, Dow Jones Newswire, New Yorker, BBC, BNN, CBC National, National Post, Globe and Mail, U.S. News & World Report, Harvard Business Review, and Yahoo! Finance.

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Date: 2 February 2021
Start Time: 16:00
End Time: 17:00

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Open to: Members of the University of Cambridge

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Event timings

Date: 2 February 2021
Start Time: 16:00
End Time: 17:00