January 31 – February 10 2010, Gais (Switzerland)

Download the Call for Papers

Responsible investment is going mainstream. More investors than ever before are incorporating environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) issues into their investment processes, and engaging in dialogue with companies to improve corporate ESG performance. Investors now clearly recognise new opportunities and their vulnerability to systemic issues in the economy, from poor risk management to climate change.

The second oikos PRI Young Scholars Finance Academy provided a platform for the next generation of investment researchers to tackle these emerging issues. The Academy gathered leading academics, practitioners, exceptional graduate students and young faculty around the theme of mainstreaming responsible investment.


The Academy gathered leading academics, practitioners, exceptional graduate students and young faculty around the theme of mainstreaming responsible investment, focusing on the following issues and questions (Note: these questions are indicative only and not exclusive).

Shareholder engagement and its effectiveness

• What are the emerging themes and practices in shareholder engagement in various regions?

• What are the cultural and legal differences with respect to shareholder engagement across different regions and sectors?

• How effective is shareholder engagement in improving corporate ESG practices?

• What are the corporate responses to shareholder engagement?

• How can effectiveness be measured? How should asset owners assess the engagement activities of their fund managers or engagement service providers?

• What role plays innovation in institutional frameworks to manage potential conflicts of interest?

Integration of ESG issues into mainstream investment

• What is the theory of responsible investing? How does it relate to modern portfolio theory?

• What are the drivers and barriers for integration of ESG-issues into mainstream stock selection?

• How is integration developing? How can the integrity of financial institutions be measured? What weight is being put on ESG factors in mainstream integration?

• Is the ESG data adequate for mainstream integration purposes? What is the accuracy of various existing E, S and G metrics? What are the conceptual and practical challenges to measures among E and S and G areas?

• What are the emerging practices on ESG integration across different asset classes (property, fixed income, hedge funds, private equity, infrastructure)

• Does the integration of ESG lead to outcomes that contribute to environmental sustainability?

• How do regulatory frameworks impact ESG integration (e.g. national, international, global level)?

The growth of ESG-focused investments among mainstream investors

• How are mainstream investors approaching ESG-focused investments such as clean tech, sustain-able venture capital, infrastructure in developing countries, community investing and microfinance?

• What are the rationales for mainstream investors’ participating in these asset classes?

• What are the obstacles preventing greater mainstream investment into ESG-focused investments with explicit sustainable development outcomes?

• How can public sector institutions (IFC, World Bank, development banks) structure products to facilitate institutional investments into the big challenges facing world, such as climate change, poverty reduction, deforestation?

Universal owners and the materiality of externalities

• What are the key externalities being imposed on the global or regional economies by the actions of corporations?

• How do these externalities affect the returns of specific or hypothetical large, diversified portfolios?

• What strategies could investors implement to address these externalities?

• What might be the financial benefits to the investment community of the reduction in externalities associated with poor corporate practices?


Feedback was  given by internationally well-reputed academics:

  • Dr. Rob Bauer,  Pr0fessor of Finance, Maastricht University, The Netherlands
  • Dr. James P. Hawley, Co-Director, Elfenworks Center for the Study of Fiduciary Capitalism, St. Mary’s College of California, USA
  • Dr. Celine Louche,  Ass. Professor,  Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School, Belgium

The Academy was moderated  by  Dr. Tessa Hebb, Director, Carleton Centre for Community Innovation, Carleton University, Ottwa, Canada.

To allow in-depth discussions and intensive learning processes, the international Finance Academy was limited to 15 PhD students.

The Academy was focused on advancing the PhD and post-doctoral projects of successful applicants by providing a forum for the presentation and discussion of research projects. Participants also received feedback from noted academics and professionals from the investment community including  Steve Lydenberg (KLD) and Steve Waygood (Aviva Investors).

The final day of the Academy was hosted by SAM in Zurich and dedicated to the development of a research agenda. During a practitioners colloquium on “A future Agenda for responsible investment research” the participants developed a list of topics for inspiring students and academics doing research in the RI field.


The goal of the Academy is to promote intensive learning through in-depth discussion and feedback. The participants of the oikos Young Finance Academy 2011 were:

Dennice Allen, RMIT University Victoria, Australia

“Application of ESG principles in mainstream investing across the global divide” 

Jose Antonio Chaves, BSL Lausanne, Switzerland

“On Corporate Strategy: Corporate Environmental Governance as a Driver to Create Shareholder Value”

Bastien Drut, Université Paris Ouest La Défense, France

“Responsible Indicators in Mean‐Variance Portfolio Selection”

Thomas Durkee, University of St. Gallen, Switzerland

“The Values of Sustainability: The influence of leaders’ personal value systems on organizational strategy for long- term economic, environmental and social sustainability”

 Ian Hamilton, Umeå School of Busines, Sweden

“Influence strategies in shareholder engagement”

Susanne Kaldschmidt, University of St. Gallen, Switzerland

“The Values of Sustainability: The influence of leaders’ personal value systems on organizational strategy for long- term economic, environmental and social sustainability”

Florian Luedeke, Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Germany

“The Impact of Business Model Attributes on PV Project Financing – Empirical Evidence from Choice Experiments with Debt Investors”

Afshin Mehrpouya, ESSEC Business School Paris, France

“Marketization of ethics; does it work? Exploring the scenarios where firm’s social behavior is not reflected in its market performance”

Liudmila Nazarkina, University of St. Gallen, Switzerland

Thiago Neto, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK

“Social and environmental risk management in project financing: investment appraisal and the Equator Principles in Brazil and the United Kingdom”

Delphine Prady, Toulouse School of Economics, France

“The Value to Investors of Information about the Firms’ Social Performance”

 Riikka Sievänen, University of Helsinki, Finnland

“Exploring how European pension funds determine their approach to responsible investment”

Michael Viehs, Maastricht University, The Netherlands

“Enjoying a quiet life? – Industry competition, ownership structure and shareholder activism”

Venkata Vijay, Indian Institute of Management Indore, India

“Financial communication: one further step towards transparency”