Funded Research

Call for Proposals

Wharton faculty are invited to submit proposals that demonstrate the need for financial support and infrastructure to enhance faculty research, student learning opportunities, and engagement with industry and alumni. Proposals are reviewed on a bi-annual basis. Spring 2024 proposals closed at 11:59 p.m. ET on January 19.

ESG Initiative Centers and Labs 

Through our centers and labs, the ESG Initiative incubates new ventures that support cutting-edge research and education in diverse industries and academic fields.

“Support from the ESG initiative has been crucial in opening doors to push my research on ESG conflicts in finance forward. This support helps fund PhD students interested in ESG topics and facilitates access to cutting edge data that will extend our knowledge of how ESG investing can impact the allocation of resources and economic activity.”

— Dan Garrett, Assistant Professor of Finance

WHARTON CLIMATE CENTER

The Wharton Climate Center conducts academically rigorous, practically relevant research on such topics as climate change, renewable energy, air and water pollution, and deforestation.

IMPACT INVESTING RESEARCH LAB

The Impact Investing Research Lab drives innovative research on the practice of strategic impact investing to achieve both positive returns and real social impact.

POLITICAL RISK AND IDENTITY LAB

The Political Risk and Identity Lab conducts academically rigorous research to explore the relationship between political risk, demographic change, and corporate performance.

ZICKLIN CENTER FOR GOVERNANCE & BUSINESS ETHICS

The Zicklin Center disseminates leading research on critical topics in business ethics, including political spending, disclosure, and accountability.

2023 Projects by the Numbers

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22 projects funded
$
0
$167,742 awarded

Funded Projects Spring 2023

Wharton Climate Center

Data-driven Metrics for Optimal Location of Renewable Energy Generation Sites

Serguei Netessine, Dhirubhai Ambani Professor of Innovation and Entrepeneurship, Professor of Operations, Information and Decisions, Senior Vice Dean for Innovation and Global Initiatives, The Wharton School; Vishrut Rana, PhD. Candidate in Operations, Information and Decisions, The Wharton School 

This funding supports the development of a paper studying the impact of selecting locations for renewable energy generation (in particular, wind energy) based on metrics that account for the time and location of electricity generation from intermittent renewable resources. By developing computational models for site selection and simulation efforts for counterfactual assessment, the researchers will attempt to answer two main research questions: 1) How can granular wind-speed and transmission line data be used to identify locations for wind power plants? 2) What is the impact on the electricity markets by selecting locations using the proposed data-driven framework?

Developing a Toolkit for Identifying Greenwashing Practices in US Fortune 500 Firms: A Textual, Sentiment, and Visual Analysis Approach

Leandro Pongeluppe, Assistant Professor of Management, The Wharton School

The primary objective of this research project is to develop a toolkit that can identify greenwashing practices in the sustainability reports of US Fortune 500 firms. The project will be achieved through three dimensions: textual analysis of environmental terms, collocation of these terms in sentences with emotional (sentiment) content, and visual analysis of the reports (count of green pixels). The secondary objective is to compare the firms’ disclosure with their ESG scores and penalties to identify the degree of greenwashing. The study’s outcomes will provide valuable insights into the identification of greenwashing practices in sustainability reports of US Fortune 500 firms. The toolkit developed from this research will enable investors, regulators, and other stakeholders to make informed decisions based on accurate information. The study will also contribute to the existing literature on corporate social responsibility and environmental disclosure, and the findings will have significant implications for policy-making and corporate governance.

ESG Bonds, Public Investment, and Inequality

Daniel Garrett, Assistant Professor of Finance, The Wharton School; Marius Guenzel, Assistant Professor of Finance, The Wharton School

This project continues the researchers’ ongoing work on bounded rationality in the market for public financing in the US in its relation to the market for securities issued for environmental, social, and governance (ESG) related spending priorities. Taking a new approach in modeling the decision to bring ESG-verified bonds to market over time and exploring how the presence of these bonds is driven by investor preferences, the project unearths two potential instruments for ESG-verification that have not been used before in the academic literature. Both of these instruments require modeling the selection of who wants to issue an ESG-verified bond.

Filling the Energy Efficiency Gap? Evidence from Mandatory Energy Audits in Europe

Carol Seregni, Assistant Professor of Accounting, The Wharton School; Carolyn Deller, Assistant Professor of Accounting, The Wharton School

Evidence shows that individuals and firms forego energy efficiency investments: this is known as the Energy Efficiency Gap. One explanation for the existence of this gap is imperfect information (Alcott and Greenstone, 2012). These researchers study whether the introduction of mandatory energy audits for large firms reduces information frictions and leads to better environmental outcomes.

Private vs. Public Provision of Mortgage Securitization

Lu Liu, Assistant Professor of Finance, The Wharton School; Parinitha Sastry, Assistant Professor of Finance, Columbia GSB

What is the role of government insurance in the mortgage market? Given the outsized role of public entities in the US mortgage market, this is a first-order question for policy and market design, given long-standing moral hazard issues and possibly distortionary effects such as crowding out of private provision. This research studies this question in the context of insurance against systematic risks, in particular, climate risks coming from flood risks.

Scaling Up Tropical Cyclone Insurance in the Philippines in Partnership with Local Cooperatives

Susanna Berkouwer, Assistant Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy, The Wharton School; Joshua Dean, Assistant Professor of Behavior Science and Economics, Booth School of Business, University of Chicago

Parametric insurance has the potential to be a key adaptation tool to make vulnerable communities more resilient to climate change. Under parametric insurance, premiums are determined by coverage level, which consists of two parameters: cyclone strength (ranging from Tropical Storm to Category 5) and location (whether the eye of the storm is within 25km, 50km, or 100km of a location). This funding supports early-stage exploratory surveys and piloting activities to study tropical cyclone insurance in the Philippines and answer the following questions: What is demand for parametric insurance (prior to the tropical cyclone season)? How do individuals trade off transparency and complexity (prior to the tropical cyclone season)? Does insurance improve recovery in the case of a tropical cyclone? Does insurance spur investment even absent a tropical cyclone? How do village cooperatives optimally award insurance policies and disburse funding to individuals or businesses? Can parametric insurance be used to leverage credit as a tool for economic growth?

The Economic and Social Consequences of Cross-boarder Acquisitions of Farmland

Frank Zhou, Assistant Professor of Accounting, The Wharton School

Cross-border capital flows have the potential to enable host countries to leverage their comparative advantages, thereby improving resource allocation efficiency. However, foreign capital owners may not always share the same economic and social objectives as domestic shareholders. For instance, they may be primarily motivated by acquiring cutting-edge technologies to advance their own domestic markets or establishing a local presence to promote their existing products and services. This type of foreign capital utilization may lead to a loss of host country competitive advantages, with unintended consequences for the local economy and environment. As such, careful monitoring and regulation of foreign investment are necessary to ensure that investments align with host country goals and values. The primary objective of this project is to investigate the recent surge in cross-border mergers and acquisitions of farmlands and to analyze its impact on the efficient utilization of modern technology for improving land productivity, capital investments, and the local economy and environment.

The Law and Policy of Central Banking

Christina Parajon Skinner, Assistant Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics, The Wharton School; Jesus Fernandez-Villaverde, Professor of Economics, Penn School of Arts & Sciences

Increasingly, the question “what is a central bank” is harder to answer as these once narrow institutions have expanded and lines around once clearly delimited mandates blurred. This case book attempts to clarify the role of central banks—and to make the law governing them more concrete—by discussing the origins and evolution of the myriad functions of central banks we see today. It contextualizes this discussion with the economic policy rationale for these institutions myriad functions, doing so with comparative perspective that considers a range of central banks around the globe. Overall, the project is animated by the unprecedented pressure for central banks to evolve, which has been thrust upon these institutions by popular attention to ESG-related challenges and risks, as well as the rise of unconventional monetary policy—quantitative easing—and its impact on households.

Political Risk & Identity Lab

Pro-Diversity Claims Cause Labor Market Sorting by Political Ideology: Evidence from Experiments

Saerom (Ronnie) Lee, Assistant Professor of Management, The Wharton School; Reuben Hurst, Assistant Professor of Management and Organization, Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland

This paper will investigate how employers’ use of pro-diversity claims in recruiting efforts shapes the distribution of political ideologies within the applicant pool. These researchers argue these claims are disproportionately attractive to left-leaning applicants, who compared to their right-leaning counterparts, view employers that make these claims as more aligned with their political ideology, more likely to employ others that share their political ideology, and less likely to discriminate against them based on their political ideology. In a field experiment with a partner firm, this research will measure how the use of pro-diversity claims affects the distribution of political ideologies within the applicant pool. One implication of the study is that recruiting strategies designed to diversify applicant pools in terms of gender or race may de-diversify applicant pools in terms of political ideology.

The Validity of Stakeholder Expectations

Christopher Bruno, Doctoral Student in Management, The Wharton School; Tyler Wry, Associate Professor of Management, The Wharton School

In recent years alone, COVID-19, Black Lives Matter, and disasters like the California wildfires asked firms to respond to fast-moving, highly visible, stressful, and frequently contentious or polarizing social issues. Prior theory does not adequately address how firms respond to the increased pressure from these types of issues. This research develops theory around a deeper understanding of the latent construct, expectations, to help fill this gap. This funding supports experiments to validate (1) that stakeholder expectations are a mechanism that varies by different traits of corporations (e.g., their size); (2) to understand which corporate factors are the most important differentiators of expectations; (3) to test the discriminant validity of different types of expectations (e.g., normative vs. predictive).

Zicklin Center for Governance & Business Ethics

Big Ten & Friends Business Law and Ethics Workshop

Julian Jonker, Assistant Professor of Legal Studies & Business Ethics, The Wharton School of Business

This funding supports this year’s Big Ten & Friends workshop on July 12-13, 2023. Big Ten & Friends is a small annual conference that brings together business law faculty to discuss works-in-progress. Faculty from Michigan, Indiana, Penn State, and Wharton are typically represented, along with occasional participation from Maryland, Rutgers, and UConn. The workshop much improves the papers’ quality. It also helps to build connections between research-active business law & ethics faculty, providing opportunities for faculty to discover potential collaborations and for graduate students to network with scholars at other schools prior to going on the job market.

Does Using Social Media Increase Fraud? Evidence from GDP Reporting from Local Governments

Lynn Wu, Associate Professor of Operations, Information and Decisions, The Wharton School; Xiaoning Wang, Assistant Professor of Information Systems, Naveen Jindal School of Management, The University of Texas at Dallas

Social media can be used to reduce the information asymmetry between the organization and the external environment, but organizations can also use it send misinformation to manipulate the market. In this study, the researchers examine the two countervailing effects to understand whether and if so when organizations increase fraudulent behaviors after using social media.

Examining the Role of Expertise on the Boards of Health in the United States

Sasmira Matta, PhD Candidate in Health Care Management and Economics, The Wharton School; Ingrid Nembhard, Fishman Family President’s Distinguished Professor, Professor of Health Care Management, Professor of Management (Organizational Behavior), The Wharton School

Expertise on boards has been understudied and it remains unknown whether and how the professional expertise of board members enhances or inhibits board effectiveness and in turn organizational performance. Whereas the literature on teams has suggested that diversity perspectives on teams enhance idea generation, most of the work on diversity within boards has focused on diversity of race, ethnicity, and gender. While those dimensions are important in their own right, less work has focused on understanding the diversity of professional expertise on boards. Therefore, in this study, I will examine the role of expertise on boards using local boards of health (LBOH) as the study setting. Expertise on boards has been understudied and it remains unknown whether and how the professional expertise of board members enhances or inhibits board effectiveness and in turn organizational performance. Whereas the literature on teams has suggested that diversity perspectives on teams enhance idea generation, most of the work on diversity within boards has focused on diversity of race, ethnicity, and gender. While those dimensions are important in their own right, less work has focused on understanding the diversity of professional expertise on boards. This study examines the role of expertise on boards using local boards of health (LBOH) as the study setting.

Pro-Diversity Claims Cause Labor Market Sorting by Political Ideology: Evidence from Experiments

Saerom (Ronnie) Lee, Assistant Professor of Management, The Wharton School; Reuben Hurst, Assistant Professor of Management and Organization, Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland

This paper will investigate how employers’ use of pro-diversity claims in recruiting efforts shapes the distribution of political ideologies within the applicant pool. These researchers argue these claims are disproportionately attractive to left-leaning applicants, who compared to their right-leaning counterparts, view employers that make these claims as more aligned with their political ideology, more likely to employ others that share their political ideology, and less likely to discriminate against them based on their political ideology. In a field experiment with a partner firm, this research will measure how the use of pro-diversity claims affects the distribution of political ideologies within the applicant pool. One implication of the study is that recruiting strategies designed to diversify applicant pools in terms of gender or race may de-diversify applicant pools in terms of political ideology.

Strategies for Creating Value in Base of the Pyramid Markets: Evidence From a Field Experiment in India

Aparajita Agarwal, PhD. Candidate in Management; The Wharton School; Tyler Wry, Associate Professor of Management, The Wharton School

How does an impact-oriented firm’s focus on breadth vs. depth of reach affect its financial and social performance? The research will examine this question through a randomized control trial conducted in partnership with Grameen Impact Ventures (GIV). GIV is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Grameen Foundation USA, a global non-profit organization that replicates the Grameen Bank’s microfinance model around the world.

Thinking Structurally: How Structural Attributions Impact Support for Solutions and Willingness to Take Collective Action

Sophia Pink, PhD. Candidate in Operations, Information and Decisions, The Wharton School; Maurice Schweitzer, Cecilia Yen Koo Professor, Professor of Operations, Information and Decisions, Professor of Management, The Wharton School

Though nearly everyone recognizes the importance of addressing issues like climate change, gender bias, and police brutality, we face bitter and debilitating conflict with respect to the causes of these challenges. As a result of this conflict, as a society we have taken only limited and halting action to address many of our most pressing challenges. In this work, researchers investigate structural attributions, which they define as the belief that an issue was caused by policies, infrastructure, or institutions. They also investigate individual attributions, which is the belief that an issue was caused by individuals making decisions. In doing so, they aim to introduce a novel framework for understanding the faultlines of high stakes conflicts, and advance our ability to resolve conflict and address some of our most pressing challenges.

Wharton Management in Emerging Markets Conference

Valentina Assenova, Edward B. and Shirley R. Shils Endowed Term Assistant Professor of Management, The Wharton School

This funding supports an emerging-markets themed conference at the Wharton School, tentatively titled the “Wharton Management in Emerging Markets Conference.” The primary aim of the proposed conference is to foster an environment for presenting and discussing early-stage research focused on studies at the intersection of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues and innovation. The conference is designed to bring together leading management scholars with research interests in these areas to share research in progress. The goal is to create a forum for the sharing of research and the development of new ideas that will help to inform policy and practice.

ESG-wide

Corporate Social Responsibility's Impact on Startup Employment Outcomes

J. Daniel Kim, Assistant Professor of Management, The Wharton School of Business; Matthew Lee, Associate Professor of Public Policy and Management, Harvard Kennedy School of Government

Are prospective employees more likely to express interest in – as well as select a job offer from – startup companies with a social responsibility orientation? Do employees at socially responsible startup company exhibit higher retention than their peers at non-socially responsible startup? What is the long-term impact of employment with a social responsibility-oriented company on individuals’ career trajectories? This research aims to study the effect of social responsibility orientation across the employee lifecycle, extending beyond the attraction stage to selection (i.e., a candidate’s choice among job offers) and attrition (i.e., an employee’s decision to leave a company voluntarily) – as well as the long-term impact on individuals’ career trajectories.

Data-driven Metrics for Optimal Location of Renewable Energy Generation Sites

Serguei Netessine, Dhirubhai Ambani Professor of Innovation and Entrepeneurship, Professor of Operations, Information and Decisions, Senior Vice Dean for Innovation and Global Initiatives, The Wharton School; Vishrut Rana, PhD. Candidate in Operations, Information and Decisions, The Wharton School 

This funding supports the development of a paper studying the impact of selecting locations for renewable energy generation (in particular, wind energy) based on metrics that account for the time and location of electricity generation from intermittent renewable resources. By developing computational models for site selection and simulation efforts for counterfactual assessment, the researchers will attempt to answer two main research questions: 1) How can granular wind-speed and transmission line data be used to identify locations for wind power plants? 2) What is the impact on the electricity markets by selecting locations using the proposed data-driven framework?

Differentiation in Microenterprise: A Field Experiment in Zimbabwe

Natalie Carlson, Assistant Professor of Management, The Wharton School

In explaining variation in productivity in microenterprise, research has focused primarily on the adoption of effective business practices and access to capital, with little focus on strategic positioning. In archival evidence, we find that offering a differentiated product or service is strongly correlated with firm performance. Given these findings, this project seeks to test this relationship causally. With the partnership of a training organization in Zimbabwe, RBCT, researchers plan to implement a version of the ILO’s “Generate Your Business Idea” (GYBI) / “Start Your Business” (SYB) program for aspiring entrepreneurs that focuses specifically on differentiation and nudges business owners to stake out a differentiated market position.

ESG Bonds, Public Investment, and Inequality

Daniel Garrett, Assistant Professor of Finance, The Wharton School; Marius Guenzel, Assistant Professor of Finance, The Wharton School

This project continues the researchers’ ongoing work on bounded rationality in the market for public financing in the US in its relation to the market for securities issued for environmental, social, and governance (ESG) related spending priorities. Taking a new approach in modeling the decision to bring ESG-verified bonds to market over time and exploring how the presence of these bonds is driven by investor preferences, the project unearths two potential instruments for ESG-verification that have not been used before in the academic literature. Both of these instruments require modeling the selection of who wants to issue an ESG-verified bond.

Scaling Up Tropical Cyclone Insurance in the Philippines in Partnership with Local Cooperatives

Susanna Berkouwer, Assistant Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy, The Wharton School; Joshua Dean, Assistant Professor of Behavior Science and Economics, Booth School of Business, University of Chicago

Parametric insurance has the potential to be a key adaptation tool to make vulnerable communities more resilient to climate change. Under parametric insurance, premiums are determined by coverage level, which consists of two parameters: cyclone strength (ranging from Tropical Storm to Category 5) and location (whether the eye of the storm is within 25km, 50km, or 100km of a location). This funding supports early-stage exploratory surveys and piloting activities to study tropical cyclone insurance in the Philippines and answer the following questions: What is demand for parametric insurance (prior to the tropical cyclone season)? How do individuals trade off transparency and complexity (prior to the tropical cyclone season)? Does insurance improve recovery in the case of a tropical cyclone? Does insurance spur investment even absent a tropical cyclone? How do village cooperatives optimally award insurance policies and disburse funding to individuals or businesses? Can parametric insurance be used to leverage credit as a tool for economic growth?

Strategies for Creating Value in Base of the Pyramid Markets: Evidence From a Field Experiment in India

Aparajita Agarwal, PhD. Candidate in Management; The Wharton School; Tyler Wry, Associate Professor of Management, The Wharton School

How does an impact-oriented firm’s focus on breadth vs. depth of reach affect its financial and social performance? The research will examine this question through a randomized control trial conducted in partnership with Grameen Impact Ventures (GIV). GIV is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Grameen Foundation USA, a global non-profit organization that replicates the Grameen Bank’s microfinance model around the world.

The Law and Policy of Central Banking

Christina Parajon Skinner, Assistant Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics, The Wharton School; Jesus Fernandez-Villaverde, Professor of Economics, Penn School of Arts & Sciences

Increasingly, the question “what is a central bank” is harder to answer as these once narrow institutions have expanded and lines around once clearly delimited mandates blurred. This case book attempts to clarify the role of central banks—and to make the law governing them more concrete—by discussing the origins and evolution of the myriad functions of central banks we see today. It contextualizes this discussion with the economic policy rationale for these institutions myriad functions, doing so with comparative perspective that considers a range of central banks around the globe. Overall, the project is animated by the unprecedented pressure for central banks to evolve, which has been thrust upon these institutions by popular attention to ESG-related challenges and risks, as well as the rise of unconventional monetary policy—quantitative easing—and its impact on households.

The Validity of Stakeholder Expectations

Christopher Bruno, Doctoral Student in Management, The Wharton School; Tyler Wry, Associate Professor of Management, The Wharton School

In recent years alone, COVID-19, Black Lives Matter, and disasters like the California wildfires asked firms to respond to fast-moving, highly visible, stressful, and frequently contentious or polarizing social issues. Prior theory does not adequately address how firms respond to the increased pressure from these types of issues. This research develops theory around a deeper understanding of the latent construct, expectations, to help fill this gap. This funding supports experiments to validate (1) that stakeholder expectations are a mechanism that varies by different traits of corporations (e.g., their size); (2) to understand which corporate factors are the most important differentiators of expectations; (3) to test the discriminant validity of different types of expectations (e.g., normative vs. predictive).

Time versus Energy Opportunity Costs Considerations on Customers Proactivity and Accumulated Consumption

Rachele Ciulli, PhD. Student in Marketing The Wharton School; Cait Lamberton, Alberto I. Duran President’s Distinguished Professor, Professor of Marketing, The Wharton School

Binge-watching, defined as “the consumption of multiple episodes of a television series in a short period of time” (Schweidel and Moe, 2016) requires considerations of time and energy tradeoffs. This research hypothesizes that focusing on the opportunity cost of accumulating in terms of energy will increase the likelihood of leisure accumulation and decrease the likelihood of work accumulation. When its opportunity cost is considered in terms of time, likelihood of accumulation will decrease for leisure and increase for work. However, both post-leisure consumption and post-work, if the focus is on the opportunity cost of energy spent, the likelihood of regretting accumulation will be lower. If the focus is on the opportunity cost of the time spent, the likelihood of regretting accumulation will be higher. Whichever resource is perceived as scarcer at the time will determine which opportunity cost consideration individuals will focus more on. The researchers plan to observe real behavior changes over different contexts when manipulating the resource individuals focus on when evaluating the opportunity cost of taking action in 6 studies.

Wharton Management in Emerging Markets Conference

Valentina Assenova, Edward B. and Shirley R. Shils Endowed Term Assistant Professor of Management, The Wharton School

This funding supports an emerging-markets themed conference at the Wharton School, tentatively titled the “Wharton Management in Emerging Markets Conference.” The primary aim of the proposed conference is to foster an environment for presenting and discussing early-stage research focused on studies at the intersection of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues and innovation. The conference is designed to bring together leading management scholars with research interests in these areas to share research in progress. The goal is to create a forum for the sharing of research and the development of new ideas that will help to inform policy and practice.

If you have questions about submitting a proposal to the ESG Initiative, please contact us at esg-i@wharton.upenn.edu