Soccer picture from Blue Hat Graphics from Pixabay as Impact Strategies illustration

Impact strategies: Researchpost #142

Impact strategies: 12x new research on AI, education, diversity, insiders, compensation, impact investing, collaborative engagement, voting and analysts by Olaf Weber and many more (#: SSRN downloads as of Sept. 7th, 2023)

Social and ecological research (Impact strategies)

Good and bad AI: How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love AI: Analyzing the Rapid Evolution of Generative Pre-Trained Transformer (GPT) and its Impacts on Law, Business, and Society by Scott J. Shackelford, Lawrence J. Trautman, and W. Gregory Voss as of Sept. 6th, 2023 (#108): “There is ample reason to believe that novel AI-driven capabilities hold considerable potential to drive practical solutions to address many of the world’s major challenges such as cancer, climate change, food production, healthcare, and poverty. … Even so, there are equally significant warning signs of serious consequences, including the threat of eliminating humanity. These warnings should not be ignored“ (p. 94). My comment: For responsible investing see How can sustainable investors benefit from artificial intelligence? – GITEX Impact – Leading ESG Event 2023

Educational tools: The Emergence of An Educational Tool Industry: Opportunities and Challenges For Innovation in Education by Dominique Foray and Julio Raffo as of May 4th, 2023 (#16): “… an educational tool industry has emerged; that is to say a population of small firms is inventing and commercialising instruction (mainly ICT-based) technologies. … However the main commercial target of these companies is not the huge K12 public school system. This market does not satisfy most conditions for attracting and sustaining a strong entrepreneurial activity in the tool business. … But other “smaller” markets seem to be sufficiently attractive for entrepreneurs and this connection explains to a certain extent why we have observed the patent explosion and some increase in the number of firms specialised in the tool business“ (p. 19/20).

ESG investment research (Impact strategies)

Unflexible Diversity? Are Firms Sacrificing Flexibility for Diversity and Inclusion? by Hoa Briscoe-Tran as of Aug.14th, 2023 (#181): “I analyze data from thousands of companies dating back to 2008 and find that diverse and inclusive firms (D&I firms) tend to have lower operating flexibility. Exploration of mechanisms suggest that D&I firms have lower operating flexibility due to their slower operating efficiency in their response to unexpected economic shocks“ (p. 25).

Bad competition? Competitive Pressure and ESG by Vesa Pursiainen, Hanwen Sun, and Yue Xiang as of Sept. 1st, 2023 (#95): “… Our results suggest that a firm’s exposure to competition is negatively associated with its ESG performance. … The effect of product market competition on ESG performance is higher for firms that are more financially constrained and in more capital-intensive industries. Taken together, our findings suggest that companies face a trade-off in investing in ESG versus other investment needs …” (p. 18).

Bad insiders: Executive Ownership and Sustainability Performance by Marco Ghitti, Gianfranco Gianfrate, and Edoardo Reccagni as of Oct. 19th, 2022 (#167): “Our results indicate that executive shareholding is negatively associated with corporate E&S (Sö: Environmental and social) performance, indicating that the pursuit of non-financial returns is penalized when executives are more financially vested in the company. … We analogously observe that inside trading intensity is inversely associated with the sustainability footprint, thus confirming that when executives’ primary focus is on financial gains, E&S activities diminish. … we use an exogenous shock in capital gains taxation that specifically affected executive ownership in US public companies. The quasi-natural experiment confirms that it is the degree of executive ownership that affects the E&S footprint“ (p. 12).

CSR compensation: Empirical Examination of the Direct and Moderating Role of Corporate Social Responsibility in Top Executive Compensation by Mahfuja Malik and Eunsup Daniel Shim as of Aug. 9th, 2023 (#18): “Using a sample of 4,193 firm-year observations and 1,318 public U.S. firms, we find that CSR (Sö: Corporate social responsibility) performance positively moderates the relationship between firms’ total and long-term compensation, along with its direct association with CEO compensation. However, firms’ separate CSR report disclosures are not associated with CEO compensation. … we find that CSR has no moderating role in the relationship between CEO compensation and accounting-based performance. Interestingly, we find that CSR performance plays a moderating role in weakening the positive relationship between executive compensation and firm size“ (p. 18/19). My comment: see Wrong ESG bonus math? Content-Post #188 – Responsible Investment Research Blog (

Costly greenwashing: Does Greenwashing Pay Off? Evidence from the Corporate Bond Market by Nazim Hussain, Shuo Wang, Qiang Wu, and Cheng (Colin) Zeng as of Sept. 7th, 2023 (#127): “Using 3,810 public bonds issued by U.S. firms, we find a positive relationship between greenwashing and the cost of bonds. We identify the causal relation by using the Federal Trade Commission’s 2012 regulatory intervention to curb misleading environmental claims as an exogenous shock to greenwashing. We also find a more pronounced relation between greenwashing and the cost of bonds for firms whose credit rating is adjacent to the investment/speculative borderline, firms within environmentally sensitive industries, and firms with opaque information environments. Moreover, we show that greenwashing leads to higher environmental litigation costs and a higher chance of rating disagreements among credit rating agencies … “ (abstract).

Impact strategies research

Green claims: Market review of environmental impact claims of retail investment funds in Europe by Nicola Stefan Koch, David Cooke, Samia Baadj, and Maximilien Boyne from the 2 Degree Investing Initiative as of August 2023: “27% of all in scope funds were associated with environmental impact claims. No fund with an environmental impact claim could sufficiently substantiate its claim according to the updated UCPD Guidance indicating a substantial potential legal risk. … Of the environmental impact claims deemed to be false or generic, there were 3x more appearing in Art 9 fund marketing materials compared to Art 8 fund marketing materials. … Most environmental impact claims deemed false equated “company impact” with “investor impact”, most environmental impact claims deemed unclear were not substantiated by sufficient information and most environmental impact claims deemed generic were fund names including the term “impact” with insufficient additional information” (p. 3). My comment: see Shareholder engagement: 21 science based theses and an action plan – (

Impact strategies? New bottle or new label? Distinguishing impact investing from responsible and ethical investing by Truzaar Dordi, Phoebe Stephens, Sean Geobey, and Olaf Weber as of July 27th, 2023: “… how does the subfield of impact investing differentiate itself from more established ethical and responsible investing … Adopting a combination of bibliometric and content analyses, we identify four distinct features of impact investing – positive impact targeting, novelty of governance structures, long time horizons, and the importance of philanthropy” (abstract). … “This differs from responsible investing, which mainly relies on modern portfolio theory and capital pricing models for research …” (p. 22). My comment: see No engagement-washing! Opinion-Post #207 – Responsible Investment Research Blog (

Engagement impact strategies: Tailor-to-Target: Configuring Collaborative Shareholder Engagements on Climate Change by Rieneke Slager, Kevin Chuah, Jean-Pascal Gond, Santi Furnari, and Mikael Homanen as of June 15th, 2023: “We study collaborative shareholder engagements on climate change issues. These engagements involve coalitions of investors pursuing behind-the-scenes dialogue to encourage target firms to adopt environmental sustainability practices. … we investigate how four coalition composition levers (coalition size, shareholding stake, experience, local access) combine to enable or hinder engagement success. We find that successful coalitions use four configurations of coalition composition levers that are tailored to target firms’ financial capacity and environmental predispositions, that is, target firms’ receptivity. Unsuccessful configurations instead emphasize single levers at the expense of others. Drawing on qualitative interviews, we identify three mechanisms (synchronizing, contextualizing, overfocusing) that plausibly underly the identified configurations and provide investor coalitions with knowledge about target firms and their local contexts, thus enhancing communication and understanding between investor coalitions and target firms” (abstract).

Other investment research

Bad delegation? Voting Choice by Andrey Malenkoy and Nadya Malenko as of Aug. 27th, 2023 (#346): “Under voting choice, investors of the fund can choose whether to delegate their votes to the fund or to exercise their voting rights themselves. … If the reason for offering voting choice is that investors have heterogeneous preferences, but investors are uninformed about the value of the proposal, then the equilibrium under voting choice is generally inefficient: it features either too little or too much delegation. … In contrast, if the reason for offering voting choice is that investors have information about the proposal that the fund manager does not have, but all investors preferences are aligned, then voting choice is efficient: the equilibrium level of delegation is the one that maximizes investor welfare. … However, if information acquisition is costly, voting choice can also lead to coordination failure: if too few votes are delegated to the fund, the fund has weak incentives to acquire information, which discourages delegation even further and may result in insufficiently informed voting outcomes“ (p. 28/29).

Analyst advantage: Behavioral Machine Learning? Computer Predictions of Corporate Earnings also Overreact by Murray Z. Frank, Jing Gao, and Keer Yang as of May 24th, 2023 (#184): “We study the predictions of corporate earnings from several algorithms, notably linear regressions and a popular algorithm called Gradient Boosted Regression Trees (GBRT). On average, GBRT outperformed both linear regressions and human stock analysts, but it still overreacted to news and did not satisfy rational expectation as normally defined. … Human stock analysts who have been trained in machine learning methods overreact less than traditionally trained analysts. Additionally, stock analyst predictions reflect information not otherwise available to machine algorithms” (abstract).


Advert for German investors:

Sponsor my research by investing in and/or recommending my global small/midcap mutual fund (SFDR Art. 9). The fund focuses on social SDGs and uses separate E, S and G best-in-universe minimum ratings and broad shareholder engagement with currently 29 of 30 engaged companiesFutureVest Equity Sustainable Development Goals R – DE000A2P37T6 – A2P37T; also see Active or impact investing? – (