Investor research can be divided into field research and online research. Different from field research, in online research, investors mainly use video teleconference or network platform to obtain information. Since the outbreak of COVID-19 epidemic in 2020, people’s travel is limited and field research activities are difficult to carry out. On the contrary, various online research activities are booming. In fact, since 2013, online research has shown a rapid development trend, especially after 2017, the proportion of online research has increased significantly. Online research has many advantages such as convenience, efficiency, environmental protection and carbon reduction. In the post-epidemic era, investors will adopt more online research modes. So, does online research have unique value compared with field research? Investor research can improve information efficiency; information efficiency is the prerequisite for resource allocation in the capital market; resource allocation efficiency is an important factor affecting enterprise total factor productivity; and enterprise total factor productivity is the micro carrier of China’s high-quality economic development. This paper examines the economic consequences of investor online research and its unique mechanism from the perspective of enterprise total factor productivity.
The study shows that: Firstly, online research has significantly promoted the improvement of enterprise total factor productivity. Secondly, compared with field research, the advantages of online research are mainly reflected in the following two aspects: (1) It can reduce the participation cost of investors, promote the management to fully disclose information, increase the number of informed traders, and improve the information efficiency of capital market, so as to improve enterprise total factor productivity. (2) It helps investors to mine more intangible information, so as to improve enterprise total factor productivity. Therefore, “information cost and efficiency effect” and “intangible information effect” are the intermediary mechanisms for online research to improve enterprise total factor productivity. Then, online research and field research complement each other and cooperate with each other to give full play to the best effect. The two have “information complement effect”. In addition, the extended research also finds that: (1) When the level of Internet technology is high, or weather conditions are bad when investors conduct research, online research can play a greater role. (2) When the proportion of intangible assets or the R&D intensity of enterprises is high, information transparency is low, financing constraints are serious, and agency costs are high, online research can play a greater role. (3) When the specific way of online research is online conference rather than online platform interaction, online research can play a greater role. (4) The role of online research is not affected by social relations.
The theoretical value of this paper lies in that: On the one hand, we should expand the literature on the influencing factors of enterprise total factor productivity to investor research, especially online research; on the other hand, we should expand the literature on investor information acquisition methods to online research, and explore the advantages of online research compared with field research. The practical value of this paper lies in that: By scientifically judging the role of investor online research, it is helpful to judge the promotion value of online research in the post-epidemic era, and has certain enlightenment significance for guiding the way of capital market information exchange in the post-epidemic era.