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2019/2020  KAN-CCMVI2045U  Impact Investing and Finance

English Title
Impact Investing and Finance

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration Summer
Start time of the course Summer
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Max. participants 60
Study board
Study Board for MSc in Economics and Business Administration
Course coordinator
  • Course instructor: Dr. Herwig Pilaj, Karl-Franzens-University Graz (AUT).
    Sven Bislev - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
For academic questions related to the course, please contact instructor Herwig Pilaj at herwig.pilaj@uni-graz.at
Other academic questions: contact academic director Sven Bislev at sb.msc@cbs.dk
Main academic disciplines
  • CSR and sustainability
  • Philosophy and ethics
  • Finance
Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face teaching
Last updated on 17/01/2020

Relevant links

Learning objectives
To achieve the grade 12, students should meet the following learning objectives with no or only minor mistakes or errors:
  • Understand different views on the purpose of capital and the role of finance in our society and articulate an informed opinion on these questions.
  • Critically reflect on the conflict between financial and social return and develop the ability to align an investment strategy with personal values.
  • Demonstrate an ability to apply the concepts, frameworks and models to analyze impact investments across asset classes and impact themes.
  • Assess the impact and the financial value of impact investments.
  • Distinguish between social and environmental problems which may likely be successfully addressed by impact investors and those which are less likely.
  • Critically discuss strategies to mainstream impact investing and understand their respective limitations.
Course prerequisites
Bachelor degree in business, economics, social science or equivalent.
Impact Investing and Finance:
Exam ECTS 7.5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Size of written product Max. 15 pages
Assignment type Project
Duration Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Summer, Ordinary exam: Home Assignment: 23/24 June-24 July 2020. Please note that exam will start on the first teaching day and will run in parallel with the course.
Retake exam: Home Assignment: 72-hour home assignment: 5–8 October 2020 – for all ISUP courses simultaneously
3rd attempt (2nd retake) exam: 72-hour home assignment: 23–26 November 2020 – for all ISUP courses simultaneously

Exam schedules available on https:/​/​www.cbs.dk/​uddannelse/​international-summer-university-programme-isup/​courses-and-exams
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Retake exam: 72-hour home project assignment, max. 10 pages, new exam question
Exam form for 3rd attempt (2nd retake): 72-hour home project assignment, max. 10 pages, new exam question
Course content, structure and pedagogical approach
Impact investors seek to generate environmental and social impacts in addition to financial returns. Impact investing addresses critical issues such as energy, water, climate change, community development, social enterprises, health, sustainable development and education.
At a time when the reputation of mainstream finance has been called into question, impact investing provides a major opportunity to demonstrate a new role for finance in the 21st century: to act as the steward of society's assets and an advocate of its deepest goals.
We will engage a critical perspective by discussing the conflict between financial and social return, by applying the concepts, frameworks and models to rigorously analyze impact investment cases across asset classes and impact themes, and by reflecting on what we - as investors and social beings - really want to achieve.
We will examine impact investing beyond the finance perspective, drawing on insights from other disciplines such as psychology, philosophy and change management, and ranging from our own individual values up to the global sustainable development goals.


Preliminary assignment: Please read the below readings and watch the video clips for the first week [see expected literature]. Reflect on what is meant by impact investing and in which ways it corresponds to, contradicts or complements traditional investing. What do you think of its potential to adress the world's most pressing needs? Can impact investing be a viable alternative for you personally? Why? Why not? As investor and as social being, what do you really want to achieve? Come to class prepared to discuss these issues.
Class 1: Introduction: Is the purpose of capital simply to make more money? Is "doing well by doing good" an illusion? The case for impact investing
Class 2: Sustainable and Responsible Investing (SRI): Mapping the territory
Class 3: Impact Investing: Market, instruments, mechanisms, actors, critique
Class 4: Behavioral foundations and personal values: What do investors really want? Reflection exercise: What do you really want?
Class 5: Global Perspective: Financing the Sustainable Development Goals
Feedback activity: Students will turn in their research question and proposed mini-project for feedback from the instructor. Instructor will provide feedback as to whether the student is on the right track to meet the course objectives.
Class 6: Social Impact Bonds
Class 7: Microfinance
Class 8: Assessment of financial performance
Class 9: Assessment of impact. Theories of change
Class 10: Mainstreaming impact investing? How to unlock the finance industry's full potential to respond to social and environmental challenges?
Class 11: Comprehensive review and outlook. Discussion of mini-projects
Description of the teaching methods
All teaching takes place on campus (notice that face-to-face teaching may include the use of online materials and tools.
Feedback during the teaching period
Students will turn in their research question and proposed mini-project for feedback from the instructor. Instructor will provide feedback as to whether the student is on the right track to meet the course objectives.

Home Project Assignments/mini projects are based on a research question (problem formulation) formulated by the students individually. Approval deadline will be defined by the instructor. Hand-in of the problem formulation directly to the instructor by the 3rd teaching week.
Student workload
Preliminary assignment 20 hours
Classroom attendance 33 hours
Preparation 126 hours
Feedback activity 7 hours
Examination 20 hours
Further Information

Preliminary Assignment: To help students get maximum value from ISUP courses, instructors provide a reading or a small number of readings or video clips to be read or viewed before the start of classes with a related task scheduled for class 1 in order to 'jump-start' the learning process.


Course timetable is available on https://www.cbs.dk/uddannelse/international-summer-university-programme-isup/courses-and-exams


We reserve the right to cancel the course if we do not get enough applications. This will be communicated on https://www.cbs.dk/uddannelse/international-summer-university-programme-isup/courses-and-exams end March 2020.



Expected literature

Mandatory readings:


For the preliminary assignment:
Friedman, M. (1970): The Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits. New York Times Magazine, 13 September 1970, 122-126. Link: http:/​/​umich.edu/​~thecore/​doc/​Friedman.pdf.
Video clip, Three Things: What is Impact Investing? Link: https:/​/​www.youtube.com/​watch?v=WBNAsvlnERs
Video clip, What is Impact Investing? Link: https:/​/​www.youtube.com/​watch?v=jv3oKGUbCPo
Bugg-Levine, A., Emerson, J. (2011): Impact Investing - Transforming how we Make Money while Making a Difference, Link: https:/​/​www.mitpressjournals.org/​doi/​pdf/​10.1162/​INOV_a_00077
For the course:
(Parts of) various research articles, mini-cases and recent media coverage of impact investing, available online or via CBS library, including:
Eurosif (2018): European SRI Study 2018, Link: http:/​/​www.eurosif.org/​sri-study-2018/​
Emerson (2010):  Risk, Return and Impact: Understanding Diversification and Performance within an Impact Investing Portfolio, Link: https:/​/​www.impactassets.org/​publications_insights/​issue-briefs
 Emerson & Smalling (2015): Construction of an Impact Portfolio, Link: https:/​/​www.impactassets.org/​publications_insights/​issue-briefs
Agrawal & Hockerts (2019): Impact investing: review and research agenda, Journal of Small Business & Entrepreneurship, DOI: 10.1080/​08276331.2018.1551457
KLF (2018): In pursuit of deep impact and market-rate returns. KL Felicitas Foundation's Journey, Link: https:/​/​www.thinknpc.org/​resource-hub/​in-pursuit-of-deep-impact-and-market-rate-returns/​


Additional relevant readings:


Clark, C., Emerson, J., Thornley, B. (2015): The Impact Investor. Lessons in Leadership and Strategy for Collaborative Capitalism, Jossey-Bass/Wiley.
Emerson, J. (2018): The Purpose of Capital. Elements of Impact, Financial Flows and Natural Being, Blended Value Group Press.
Shiller, R. J. (2012): Finance and the Good Society, Princeton University Press.
Spiess-Knafl, W., Scheck, B. (2017): Impact Investing: Instruments, Mechanisms and Actors, Palgrave Macmillan
Friede, G., Busch, T. & Bassen, A. (2015). ESG and financial performance: aggregated evidence from more than 2000 empirical studies, Journal of Sustainable Finance & Investment, 5:4, 210-233.
Ormiston, J., Charlton, K., Donald, M. S., & Seymour, R. G. (2015). Overcoming the Challenges of Impact Investing: Insights from Leading Investors, Journal of Social Entrepreneurship, 6:3, 352-378.

Riedl, A., & Smeets, P. (2017). Why do investors hold socially responsible mutual funds? Journal of Finance, 72(6), 2505-2550.

Schaltegger, S., Beckmann, M., & Hockerts, K. (2018a). Collaborative entrepreneurship for sustainability. Creating solutions in light of the UN sustainable development goals. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Venturing, 10(1), 1–16.
Last updated on 17/01/2020