| HBS Working Paper Series
Capital Market Consequences of Linguistic Complexity in Conference Calls of Non-U.S. Firms
We examine how linguistic complexity affects the capital market reaction to information disclosures. We define linguistic complexity as the use of non-plain English stemming from language barriers. Using transcripts from the English-language conference calls of non-U.S. firms, we find that linguistic complexity is positively associated with the language barriers in the firms' home country. We then show that conference calls that are more linguistically complex show lower price movement, lower trading volume, and more dispersion in analyst forecasts following the calls. Further, the capital market's response to linguistic complexity is limited to firms for which there is greater demand for English-language conference calls. Our results highlight that when disclosure takes the form of verbal communication, the complexity in the narrative impacts the market reaction to the disclosure.
Capital market consequences;
Communication Intention and Meaning;
Outcome or Result;
Cross-Cultural and Cross-Border Issues;