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2020/2021  KAN-CCBLV1031U  Critical Cases in Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) and Sustainable Investments

English Title
Critical Cases in Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) and Sustainable Investments

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Start time of the course Autumn
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Min. participants 50
Max. participants 100
Study board
Study Board for BSc and MSc in Business, Language and Culture, MSc
Course coordinator
  • Kristjan Jespersen - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
Main academic disciplines
  • CSR and sustainability
  • Management
  • Accounting
Teaching methods
  • Online teaching
Last updated on 29-06-2020

Relevant links

Learning objectives
  • Refine analytical skills linked to the critical issues faced by financial organizations when applying ESG to sustainable investments.
  • Articulate and analyze the effectiveness of the range of impact tools and tactics currently available to impact investors. These include direct and fund investments, guarantees and credit enhancements, the role of subsidy, screening and shareholder engagement.
  • Understand the difficulties of financial experts to design tools that both meet fiduciary responsibilities and sustainable outcomes.
  • Map impact investing opportunities against existing product offerings and explore the gaps. Outline lessons and structures that can be applied from traditional capital markets to impact investing.
  • Reinforce active debate about the trade-offs and consequences faced when using ESG metrics and designing sustainable investments.
  • Articulate the full learning from the minor, by providing student teams the opportunity to create and structure their own sustainable investment vehicle that meet the sector and financial requirements of specific
Critical Cases in Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) and Sustainable Investments:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Oral exam based on written product

In order to participate in the oral exam, the written product must be handed in before the oral exam; by the set deadline. The grade is based on an overall assessment of the written product and the individual oral performance.
Individual or group exam Oral group exam based on written group product
Number of people in the group 4
Size of written product Max. 20 pages
Students must apply for exemption if they wish to write the project in smaller groups than 4.
Assignment type Project
Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
15 min. per student, including examiners' discussion of grade, and informing plus explaining the grade
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) Internal examiner and second internal examiner
Exam period Winter
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
There are four different scenaria for the re-exam:
1) if a student is absent from the oral exam but has been part of the report s/he does not have to submit a new project report, but MUST submit the same project report AGAIN for the re-exam.
2) if an individual student fails the oral exam she/he does not have to submit a new project report, but MUST submit the same project report AGAIN for the re-exam.
3) if a whole group fails they must submit a revised report for the re-take.
4) If you haven't submitted anything for the ordinary exam. You will submit a project report for the re-exam
Description of the exam procedure

Student groups will be tasked to conduct a research project into an aspect of ESG.


Examples of potential research projects of this type would be:


a.    An empirical study of the stock price reaction to an ESG event which would be expected to affect a number of firms. The analysis will include how the valuation of the firms changed after this event (i.e., how investors reacted to the event) and how firms themselves responded through any changes (or non-changes) in their ESG profile. It is expected that the first analysis would be statistical in nature while the second would be qualitative. 

b.    An examination of the returns to a portfolio of firms that are screened on past ESG factors. The student will decide which factors to employ for the screening for the inclusion of firms into the portfolio and explain the motivation for the factors chosen. The returns will be analysed in a statistical analysis which will include comparison to returns on index portfolios, controlling for risk. 

c.    Student groups will be tasked to design their own sustainable finance vehicle, based on the criteria and foci set out by the client.


The oral exam will be conducted online.

Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

The purpose of this course is two-fold: (1) to provide a conceptual and theoretical foundation for corporate ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) policies and actions and investors’ preferences regarding such policies and actions and (2) how such policies and actions affect firm performance and investor reactions.


Using a blend of readings, cases, discussions, and a major research project, students will learn to critically assess the actions of investors and corporations with regard to ESG policies, including the potential motivations and resulting consequences, that is, the valuation effects and externalities.


This course is designed as a case based indepth study of both theory and practice in the field of ESG and sustainable investments. Students will design and conduct your own independent research project on behalf of a major financial institution. 


Description of the teaching methods
The class will consist primarily of discussion with lectures included. It is essential that you come to class prepared to actively participate in the discussions of the day’s topic and with the knowledge from the previous class discussions. In particular, the readings are critical for being prepared.

Class participation is a significant part of the learning process. Thus, it is highly important that during class you are involved in the discussion by providing your own thoughts and by listening to and considering the thoughts of your colleagues. Our further goal is to get you comfortable expressing your ideas and opinions in a group situation. It is something you will be doing throughout your life, both at work and in extracurricular activities such as volunteer work, and it is important for leadership. During the presentation portion of the course and during the corporate representative visits, it will be important for full class participation.
Feedback during the teaching period
Students will receive feedback in the following forms
In class feedback based on the classroom discussions
Digital feedback in response to emails
Exam feedback following the exam
Student workload
Lectures 30 hours
Exam 35 hours
Preparation 141 hours
Total 206 hours
Further Information

Confidentiality:  You will be working on real issues for client organizations.  Although the information you are likely to research and analyze is not secret, it may certainly be sensitive in nature and you may be given access to internal or proprietary information.  You are to maintain confidentiality in all the work that you do on behalf of your client.  Outside of class, you may comment generically that you are working on a project for a given organization.  However, you should not discuss, tweet, Facebook, reference in LinkedIn or otherwise publicize the content of your work until you have been fully debriefed by your client on his/her preferences on the subject and receive that acknowledgement in writing via email. 

Expected literature

Li, Y., Gong, M., Zhang, X. Y., & Koh, L. (2018). The impact of environmental, social, and governance disclosure on firm value: The role of CEO power. The British Accounting Review, 50(1), 60-75.


Clarkin, J. E., & Cangioni, C. L. (2016). Impact investing: A primer and review of the literature. Entrepreneurship Research Journal, 6(2), 135-173.


Flaherty, M., Gevorkyan, A., Radpour, S., & Semmler, W. (2017). Financing climate policies through climate bonds–A three stage model and empirics. Research in International Business and Finance, 42, 468-479.


Clarkin, J. E., & Cangioni, C. L. (2016). Impact investing: A primer and review of the literature. Entrepreneurship Research Journal6(2), 135-173.


Carè, R., & Wendt, K. (2018). Investing with impact: An integrated analysis between academics and practitioners. In Social Impact Investing Beyond the SIB (pp. 5-45). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.


Viviani, J. L., & Maurel, C. (2019). Performance of impact investing: A value creation approach. Research in International Business and Finance47, 31-39.


Ang, A. (2012). The Norwegian Government Pension Fund: The Divestiture of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Columbia Case Works.


Velte, P. (2017). Does ESG performance have an impact on financial performance? Evidence from Germany. Journal of Global Responsibility, 8(2), 169-178.


Vallentin, S. & Murillo, D. (2019). CSR and the Neoliberal Imagination. In: A. Sales (Ed.). Corporate Social Responsibility and Corporate Change. Institutional and Organizational Perspectives (pp. 43-59). Springer Verlag


A Rasche, F De Bakker and J Moon (2013) ‘Complete and Partial Organizing for Corporate Social Responsibility’ Journal of Business Ethics 115

Dima Jamali; Peter Lund-Thomsen; Søren Jeppesen / SMEs and CSR in Developing Countries In: Business & Society, Vol. 56, No. 1, 1.2017, p. 11-22


Harvard Teaching Cases


Rogers, S., Mosley, V., (December 1, 2017). Vicki Fuller: Chief Inestment Officer of New York State's €150+ Billion Employee Pension Fund. Harvard Busines School. 5-318-007.


Singh, J., Dubrule, P. (2017) Credit Suisse: Building an Impact Investing Business in Asia. INSEAD Teaching Case. 


BENZ, E., ORR, E. (May 6, 2018). CLP Group: Environmental, Social, and Governance Factors and their Effects on Valuation. Thompson Center for Business Case Studies. UST052/A/1805.


Henderson, R., Serafeim, G., Lerner, J., Jinjo, N. (March 1, 2019). Should a Pension Fund Try to Change the World? Inside GPIF’s Embrace of ESG. Harvard Business School 9-319-067.


Esty, B., Knoop, C.I., Sesia Jr., A. (January 30, 2017) The Equator Principles: An Industry Approach to Managing Environmental and Social Risks. Harvard Business School 9-205-114.


 Flammer, C. (November 22, 2018) Green Bonds Benefit Companies, Investors, and the Planet. Harvard Business Review


Serafeim, G., Grewaæ, J. (April 17, 2019). ESG Metrics: Reshaping Capitalism?. Harvard Business School. 9-116-037


Smith. C., Soonieus, R. (April. 2019) How Board Members Really Feel About ESG, from Deniers to True Believers. Harvard Business Review.


Serafeim, G., Healy, P., and Sesia, A. (January 4, 2018) Oddo Securities - ESG Integration. Harvard Business School. 9-111-085.


Gandhi, V., Brumme, C., Schwalb, N. June 24, 2019) The Velux Foundations: Selecting Impact Funds. Harvard Business School. 9-819-021.


Rice from Africa for Africa: Duxton Asset Management and its Investment in Tanzanian Rice Farming. INSEAD Teaching Case



Last updated on 29-06-2020