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2020/2021  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 80
Study board
Study Board for MSc in Economics and Business Administration
Course coordinator
  • Herwig Pilaj - Department of Accounting (AA)
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
  • Online teaching
Last updated on 21/01/2021

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.
  • Understand frameworks such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the EU taxonomy for sustainable activities, their strengths and limitations and their relevance for sustainable finance and impact investing.
  • 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: 22 June-30 July 2021. Please note that exam will start on the first teaching day and will run in parallel with the course.
Retake exam: 72-hour home assignment: 27 – 30 September 2021 – for all ISUP courses simultaneously
3rd attempt (2nd retake) exam: 72-hour home assignment: 22 – 25 November 2021 – 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
Course content:
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 (SDGs).
Course structure:
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, i. e., the SDGs? May 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, 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: The Sustainable Development Goals and Finance 
Feedback activity: 
Class 6: The EU taxonomy for sustainable activities 
Class 7: Financial instruments for impact investing 
Class 8: Assessment of financial performance 
Class 9: Assessment of impact 
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
This year all courses are taught digitally over the Internet. Instructors will apply direct/live teaching through a link (like Skype, Team, Zoom). In some courses, pre-recorded material will also be used.
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.
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 in March 2021.



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 
For the course: (Parts of) various research articles, mini-cases and recent media coverage of impact investing, available online or via CBS library, including: 

• 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. 
• Höchstädter, A. K., & Scheck, B. (2015). What’s in a Name: An Analysis of Impact Investing Understandings by Academics and Practitioners. Journal of Business Ethics, 132(2), 449–475. • 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. 
• 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:


Schoenmaker, D., Schramade, W. (2019): Principles of Sustainable Finance, Oxford University Press 
Sherwood M. W., Pollard, J. (2018): Responsible Investing: An Introduction to Environmental, Social, and Governance Investments, Routledge. 
Bugg-Levine, A., Emerson, J. (2011): Impact Investing - Transforming how we Make Money while Making a Difference, Jossey-Bass. 
Clark, C., Emerson, J., Thornley, B. (2015): The Impact Investor. Lessons in Leadership and Strategy for Collaborative Capitalism, Jossey-Bass/Wiley. 
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.
Last updated on 21/01/2021