Award for Jennifer Zeppenfeld

2023-08-28 Lüneburg/Valencia. At the 3rd annual conference of the Academy of Sustainable Finance, Accounting, Accountability and Governance (ASFAAG), which took place in Valencia in July this year, Jennifer Zeppenfeld received the Best PhD Paper Award. The PhD student at Leuphana University Lüneburg received the award for her paper "CEO Narcissism and the Quality of ESG Reporting - An Empirical Investigation of the Influence of Executives on Strategic Decisions in Large German Companies". Co-authors were Finja Lena Kind and Prof. Dr. Rainer Lueg, the supervisor of the PhD.

In her study, Ms Zeppenfeld investigated to what extent the narcissism of CEOs can influence the quality of sustainability reporting. More than 500 reports from German companies in the DAX, MDAX and SDAX were analysed and evaluated on a scale. The aspects environment, social and governance were considered separately. In addition, it was investigated whether the external appearance of the report is also influenced by narcissism.

The main result of the study was that environmental reporting quality is only indirectly influenced by CEO narcissism. It became clear that CEO narcissism has a positive effect on the company's environmental performance and then also a positive effect on the quality of reporting.

The study further showed that social reporting quality and the form of the report are positively influenced by CEO narcissism: Companies with more narcissistic CEOs report better on social aspects of sustainability reporting and place more emphasis on the external form of their report. In contrast, no significant effect was found between CEO narcissism and governance reporting quality in the German context.

Jennifer Zeppenfeld came to Leuphana in 2016 and first earned Bachelor's degrees in International Business Administration & Entrepreneurship and in Law. This was followed by a Master's degree in Management & Sustainable Accounting & Finance. Ms Zeppenfeld is pursuing her doctoral project in cooperation with her employer, the auditing and tax consulting firm Mazars GmbH & Co. KG, where she is supported by Tobias Zickmann.