Each year the PRI Academic Network Annual Conference grows in stature, and this year was no exception! Using a deliberate strategy to ‘bridge the gap’ between responsible investment academics and investors, our 7th annual conference exceeded its goals.

Dr. Tessa Hebb, Conference Co-Chair and PRI Academic Network Steering Committee Chair, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada

Competition for accepted papers following our call was fierce, resulting in world-class quantitative and qualitative research coming forward in Montréal. The themes included: ESG integration, shareholder engagement, short termism and structural market failure, social finance, and transparency and reporting.

By holding the conference in the same venue and week as PRI in Person, investors participated in the research discussions and provided the academic community with deeper insight into the needs of the RI industry. For me, this year’s conference highlights included our keynote presentations, such as George Serafeim’s evidence on the importance of ESG reporting. With the 2013 PRI Academic Network Conference keynote speaker, Jean Tirole being awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in economics, we may be on to a trend!

Another highlight was the Sustainalytics Prize for Excellence in Responsible Investment Research. Fabrizio Ferraro and Daniel Beunza’s paper, Why talk? A process of model of dialogue in shareholder engagement takes on a topic of deep interest both to academics and to the responsible investment industry.

In this conference special you will find articles on the papers that received an honourable mention, an Exploration of the cross-sectional return distributions of socially responsible investment funds by Du et al; Risk attenuation and the reporting of corporate social (health and safety) performance to investors by O’Neill et al, and also the joint-winning student paper, Directors’ duties in the anthropocene: liability for corporate harm due to inaction on climate change by Sarah Barker. We also feature another keynote speaker, Magali Delmas, and her work on CSR Ratings: Does More Information Add More Value?

It is with great pleasure I hand the chair of the PRI Academic Network Steering Committee to Daniel Beunza of the London School of Economics and look forward to our conference in London next year, where we will be combined with PRI in Person. I hope you’ll join us there.

“As the assistant professor of management at the London School of Economics, my research is focused on the sociology of financial markets. I have already met many of you over the years, and look forward to working with both the PRI, investors and academics as the Chair of the Academic Network Steering Committee. I do not need to remind researchers in this network that the world is at a turning point, not only in its geopolitical order but especially its environmental and social future. There is a pressing need for rigorous academic research on solutions and ways forward, and I expect to see these showcased in London next year. I welcome your ideas and suggestions and look forward to seeing you.”

Daniel Beunza

“I attended the conference as a sponsor of the Sustainalytics Prize for Excellence in Responsible Investment Research. Sustainalytics’ decision to sponsor this prize for the past few years stems from our commitment to collaboration between academic and practitioners in enhancing responsible investment standards and approaches. The keynote on integrated reporting was a highlight, reflecting the opportunity for collaboration among academics and practitioners in identifying a narrower subset of ESG metrics, with the strongest correlation. Another key opportunity for collaboration is confronting the carbon challenge, one of the most critical risks facing us today.”

Heather Lang, Sustainalytics

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    RI Quarterly Vol. 5: Highlights from the PRI Academic Network Conference 2014

    November 2014