Research priorities 2013/14

Since PRI Academic Network was launched in 2008, the Network, PRI signatories and partner organisations have worked together to identify the most crucial topics where research is needed in order to develop understandings of responsible investment and move the practice forward. The five themes listed below have been identified as the research priorities of the Academic Network.

Investment strategy

  • Fundamental drivers of return and risk, moving away from an inquiry into aggregate ESG ratings
  • ESG in diverse investment strategies and styles (fundamental stock-picking, passive indices, quant, top-down thematic, value vs. growth, etc.)
  • ESG across asset classes
  • ESG at the strategic level , for example strategic asset allocation


  • How can engagement be effective in non-US and UK markets?
  • What does effective active ownership look like in asset classes other than equities?
  • How can the effectiveness of engagement on core drivers of long-term return and risk be improved? 
  • How can investors best influence market-wide issues – market governance and regulation, climate change, human capital and human rights, etc?
  • How can barriers to collaboration be overcome?

Public policy

  • What forms of ESG integration into investment processes are permissible under investors’ legal obligations, in different jurisdictions?
  • The relationship between different corporate ownership structures, corporate governance regimes, societal and institutional norms, and the development of regulatory or market-based responsible investment codes
  • How can public policy facilitate the internalisation of external environmental, social and governance costs in ways that further the interests of long-term investors?


  • How can pension fund trustees acquire the skills, knowledge and, crucially, time, needed to address ESG issues?
  • How do power relationships, agency issues and conflicts of interest in the investment chain affect long-term investors’ interests?
  • How can investment management organisations be structured and managed to embed ESG factors, and what organisational cultures would they have?

Market structures

  • What are the pathways by which long-term savings capital will flow into investment markets in the coming years, and how are those pathways be governed?
  • Will those with governance and investment responsibilities for these pathways take a different view of long-term sustainability and responsible investment from the institutions that currently espouse this agenda?
  • Where is the space for global dialogue on ESG issues among the investors of the ‘present’ and the ‘future’ and how can this dialogue be facilitated?