Research Priorities

The ESG Initiative at the Wharton School

Research priorities at the ESG Initiative extend far beyond the link between a company’s ESG ratings and performance to include a wide range of alternative datasets that collectively cast light on the complex relationships between what a firm says, how its stakeholders perceive it, and what it actually does on ESG issues. These include firms’ own representations as captured in the text of analyst earnings calls, annual reports, press releases,  and legal filings. Third-party representations of firms from (social) media and investigative reports also provide critical insight.

We encourage the design and analysis of custom surveys or qualitative research that provide detailed information on political risk management, enterprise risk management, the management of ESG risks and opportunities, and the impact measurement, legal governance, organizational climate, and financial performance of investors.

Beyond the information provided by firms, researchers may also consider objective third-party data on actual inputs, outputs, or outcomes as reported to government regulatory agencies as well as third-party monitoring data from satellites or other sources and upstream or downstream impacts assembled through the analysis of supply chain networks.

Specific topics of interest include

  • Climate Center
    • How climate risk impacts business strategy, financial performance, financial markets and the valuation of businesses, assets and financial securities across the full spectrum of asset classes;
    • How environmental policies and markets transform the energy and transportation sectors across countries at different stages of economic development;
    • Climate and environmental ethics.
  • Impact Investing Research Lab
    • Drawing on a unique proprietary survey currently representing $46.3b of Assets Under Management in Impact Investing, what combination of impact measurement practices, legal governance, organizational climate, contribute to scalable impact solutions that also perform relatively well financially.
  • Political Risk and Identity Lab
    • Drawing on a growing multi-layer micro-geospatial dataset capturing the (social) media-reported sentiment of stakeholders towards firms (and each other) on a wide variety of themes, how does such sentiment impact performance? What can firms do to influence such sentiment, particularly in contexts with pre-existing grievances among identity groups?
    • How do immigrants in their various roles—workers, inventors, investors, customers, etc.—affect businesses? How do businesses, in turn, affect immigrants in those various roles?
    • To facilitate research on this important topic, the Political Risk & Identity Lab will consider proposals to use a novel dataset containing information on every H1-B worker hired in the U.S. between 2000-2019. Key variables in the dataset include employer name, employee HQ, occupation, salary, country of birth, education level, and whether the visa was issued for the first time or was a renewal.
  • Zicklin Center for Governance and Business Ethics
    • How do managers, firms and policymakers meet ethical, governance and compliance challenges arising in complex business transactions particularly as they relate to corporate misconduct, human rights, financial regulation or corporate political activity?

Contact Us

The ESG Initiative at the Wharton School