Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. Incheol Kim

Second Advisor

Dr. Andre V. Mollick

Third Advisor

Dr. Suin Lee


I examine how firms address workplace safety issues considering their value implication. In my first essay, I investigate the relation between workplace safety and inside debt held by the CEO in form of pension benefits and deferred compensation. To mitigate the endogeneity of CEO inside debt design, I exploit variation generated by the implementation of the Internal Revenue Code Section 409A Final Regulations. Consistent with the long-term orientation hypothesis, I find strong evidence of lower establishment-level work-related injuries and illnesses in firms whose CEOs have higher relative inside debt. I also document that CEOs inside debt holdings are associated with both adopting employee-friendly corporate policy and reducing firms’ risk-taking behavior. The effect of CEO inside debt on workplace safety is more pronounced in firms with high labor union coverage and cash flow volatility and low CEO ownership. The finding has a cost implication for bank financing in the sense that banks charge higher loan spreads to firms with higher workplace injuries and illnesses.

In the second essay, I investigate the effect of local religiosity on employee treatment, proxied by workplace safety incidents. Using the establishment-level data compiling on the incidents of work-related injuries, I find that employees of the establishments in more religious counties get less injured than those in less religious counties. I further find that a reduction in occupational accidents is irrelevant for risk-based cross-sectional groups and more evident for establishments in counties dominated by one religious denomination. This analysis mitigates the concerns for a risk-based explanation of religiosity on employee treatment and strengthens my argument on community solidarity and homophiles stemmed from religious networks. Firms whose establishments are located in high religious counties are less likely to violate workplace conduct and more likely to take workplace safety measures. Moreover, firms with more work-related injuries exhibit poorer firm performance. Overall, my findings suggest that local religiosity has a value implication through human capital protection.


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