SAFE Working Paper No. 410

Surfing the Green Wave: What’s in a “Green” Name Change?

This paper investigates stock market reaction to greenwashing by analyzing a new channel whereby companies change their names to green-related ones (i.e., names that evoke green and sustainable sentiments) to persuade the public that their activities are green. The findings reveal a striking positive stock price reaction to the announcement of corporate name changes to green-related names only for companies not involved in green activities at the time of the announcement. However, over an extended period of time, companies unrelated to green activities experience substantial negative abnormal returns if they fail to align their operational focus with the new name after the change.