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ESG and financial performance: aggregated evidence from more than 2000 empirical studies


  • Gunnar Friede
  • Timo Busch
  • Alexander Bassen


The search for a relation between environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria and corporate financial performance (CFP) can be traced back to the beginning of the 1970s. Scholars and investors have published more than 2000 empirical studies and several review studies on this relation since then. The largest previous review study analyzes just a fraction of existing primary studies, making findings difficult to generalize. Thus, knowledge on the financial effects of ESG criteria remains fragmented. To overcome this shortcoming, this study extracts all provided primary and secondary data of previous academic review studies. Through doing this, the study combines the findings of about 2200 individual studies. Hence, this study is by far the most exhaustive overview of academic research on this topic and allows for generalizable statements. The results show that the business case for ESG investing is empirically very well founded. Roughly 90% of studies find a nonnegative ESG--CFP relation. More importantly, the large majority of studies reports positive findings. We highlight that the positive ESG impact on CFP appears stable over time. Promising results are obtained when differentiating for portfolio and nonportfolio studies, regions, and young asset classes for ESG investing such as emerging markets, corporate bonds, and green real estate.

Suggested Citation

  • Gunnar Friede & Timo Busch & Alexander Bassen, 2015. "ESG and financial performance: aggregated evidence from more than 2000 empirical studies," Journal of Sustainable Finance & Investment, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(4), pages 210-233, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jsustf:v:5:y:2015:i:4:p:210-233
    DOI: 10.1080/20430795.2015.1118917

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    Cited by:

    1. Willem Schramade, 2016. "Integrating ESG into valuation models and investment decisions: the value-driver adjustment approach," Journal of Sustainable Finance & Investment, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(2), pages 95-111, April.
    2. Nizam, Esma & Ng, Adam & Dewandaru, Ginanjar & Nagayev, Ruslan & Nkoba, Malik Abdulrahman, 2019. "The impact of social and environmental sustainability on financial performance: A global analysis of the banking sector," Journal of Multinational Financial Management, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 35-53.
    3. Buchanan, Bonnie & Cao, Cathy Xuying & Chen, Chongyang, 2018. "Corporate social responsibility, firm value, and influential institutional ownership," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 73-95.
    4. Ilia Kuchin & Gennady Baranovskii & Yury Dranev & Alexander Chulok, 2019. "Does Green Bonds Placement Create Value For Firms?," HSE Working papers WP BRP 101/STI/2019, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
    5. Markus Arnold & Alexander Bassen & Ralf Frank, 2018. "Timing effects of corporate social responsibility disclosure: an experimental study with investment professionals," Journal of Sustainable Finance & Investment, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(1), pages 45-71, January.
    6. Simon Dikau & Nick Robins & Matthias Täger, 2019. "Building a sustainable financial system: the state of practice and future priorities," Revista de Estabilidad Financiera, Banco de España;Revista de Estabilidad Financiera Homepage, issue Autumn.
    7. Servaes, Henri & Tamayo, Ane, 2017. "The role of social capital in corporations: a review," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 69209, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    8. Johnson Kakeu, 2017. "Environmentally conscious investors and portfolio choice decisions," Journal of Sustainable Finance & Investment, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 7(4), pages 360-378, October.
    9. Britta Hachenberg & Dirk Schiereck, 2018. "Are green bonds priced differently from conventional bonds?," Journal of Asset Management, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 19(6), pages 371-383, October.
    10. Maria Carolina Rezende de Carvalho Ferreira & Vinicius Amorim Sobreiro & Herbert Kimura & Flavio Luiz de Moraes Barboza, 2016. "A systematic review of literature about finance and sustainability," Journal of Sustainable Finance & Investment, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(2), pages 112-147, April.
    11. Dirk Schoenmaker & Willem Schramade, 2019. "Investing for long-term value creation," Journal of Sustainable Finance & Investment, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(4), pages 356-377, October.
    12. Gholam Reza Zandi & Nadeem Khalid & Dewan Md. Zahurul Islam, 2019. "Nexus of Knowledge Transfer, Green Innovation and Environmental Performance: Impact of Environmental Management Accounting," International Journal of Energy Economics and Policy, Econjournals, vol. 9(5), pages 387-393.
    13. Carlo Bellavite Pellegrini & Raul Caruso & Rocco Cifone, 2019. "The Impact of ESG Scores on both Firm Profitability and Value in the Automotive Sector (2002-2016)," Working Papers 1004, European Centre of Peace Science, Integration and Cooperation (CESPIC), Catholic University 'Our Lady of Good Counsel'.
    14. Chen, Wanyu (Tina) & Zhou, Gaoguang (Stephen) & Zhu, Xindong (Kevin), 2019. "CEO tenure and corporate social responsibility performance," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 292-302.

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