From a Financial to an Entity Model of ESG
This preprint has not undergone peer review or any post-submission improvements or corrections. The Version of Record of this article is published in European Business Organization Law Review, and is available online at https://doi.org/10.1007/s40804-021-00234-y.
39 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2021 Last revised: 12 Jan 2022
Date Written: April 26, 2021
ESG investing evolved over time from the earlier concept of CSR. The process of evolution moved the focus from the external impact of corporate activities to the risk and return implications for financial investors of failing to address ESG issues in their portfolio selection and corporate engagement. The bridge between the two approaches was the framing of sustainability in the early part of the millennium as an overarching concept that could be mapped on to the supply of capital and the techniques employed by institutional investors. The financial model of ESG investing is now the standard approach around the world and is reflected in ESG ratings, codes and guidance and regulatory rules. It focuses on the role of capital and investors in driving change in sustainability practices and pays much less attention to the role of board decision-making and directors’ fiduciary duties. In this research, we trace the origins and trajectory of this change in emphasis from CSR to ESG and attempt to explain why it occurred. We identify shortcomings in the financial model of ESG investing and propose an alternative ‘Entity’ model, which we argue would more effectively promote sustainability in the corporate sector around the world.
Keywords: ESG, CSR, sustainability, fiduciary duty, stakeholders, due diligence
JEL Classification: K22
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation