Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainable Finance: A Review of the Literature

European Corporate Governance Institute – Finance Working Paper No. 701/2020

This paper will appear in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Economics and Finance.

43 Pages Posted: 24 Sep 2020 Last revised: 28 Sep 2020

See all articles by Hao Liang

Hao Liang

Singapore Management University - Lee Kong Chian School of Business; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Luc Renneboog

Tilburg University - Department of Finance; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI); Tilburg Law and Economics Center (TILEC)

Date Written: September 24, 2020

Abstract

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) refers to the incorporation of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) considerations into corporate management, financial decision making, and investors’ portfolio decisions. Socially responsible firms are expected to internalize the externalities (e.g. pollution) they create, and are willing to be accountable to shareholders as well as a broader group of stakeholders (employees, customers, suppliers, local communities,…). Over the past two decades, various rating agencies developed firm-level measures of ESG performance, which are widely used in the literature. A problem for past and a challenge for future research is that these ratings show inconsistencies, which depend on the rating agencies’ preferences, weights of the constituting factors, and rating methodology.

CSR also deals with sustainable, responsible, and impact investing (SRI). The return implications of investing in the stocks of socially responsible firms, the search for an EGS factor, as well as the performance of SRI funds are the dominant topics. SR funds apply negative screening (exclusion of ‘sin’ industries), positive screening, as well as activism through proxy voting or direct engagement. In this context, one wonders whether responsible investors are willing to trade off financial returns with a ‘moral’ dividend (the return given up in exchange for an increase in utility driven by the knowledge that one invests ethically). A recent literature concentrates on green financing (the financing of environmentally friendly investment projects by means of green bonds) and on how to foster economic de-carbonization as climate change affects financial markets and investor behavior.

Keywords: Environmental, Social, and Governance, CSR, ESG, SRI, Socially Responsible Investments, Impact investing, Externalities, Stakeholders, Stakeholder governance, Climate change, Decarbonization, Global warming, Green bonds

JEL Classification: G1, G11, G32, G38, Q01, Q05, Q051, Q54, Q56

Suggested Citation

Liang, Hao and Renneboog, Luc, Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainable Finance: A Review of the Literature (September 24, 2020). European Corporate Governance Institute – Finance Working Paper No. 701/2020, This paper will appear in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Economics and Finance., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3698631 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3698631

Hao Liang

Singapore Management University - Lee Kong Chian School of Business ( email )

469 Bukit Timah Road
Singapore 912409
Singapore

HOME PAGE: http://business.smu.edu.sg/faculty/profile/130396/LIANG-Hao

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) ( email )

c/o the Royal Academies of Belgium
Rue Ducale 1 Hertogsstraat
1000 Brussels
Belgium

Luc Renneboog (Contact Author)

Tilburg University - Department of Finance ( email )

P.O. Box 90153
Warandelaan 2
5000 LE Tilburg
Netherlands
+13 31 466 8210 (Phone)
+13 31 466 2875 (Fax)

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

c/o the Royal Academies of Belgium
Rue Ducale 1 Hertogsstraat
1000 Brussels
Belgium

Tilburg Law and Economics Center (TILEC)

Warandelaan 2
Tilburg, 5000 LE
Netherlands

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