You can view a video interview produced by Wharton with co-author Christopher Geczy discussing the implications of the paper on the impact investing sector here.
ABOUT THE WINNING PAPER
The winning paper, “Contracts with Benefits: The Implementation of Impact Investing”, explores the terms of contracts touched by impact funds and analyzes their varied efforts to balance social impact and financial performance. The study found that to achieve meaningful impact, “funds should adapt contracting practices to incorporate new terms that directly operationalize impact, and also adjust the use of existing terms on compensation governance, investor protections, and other concerns.” After reviewing over 200 contracts, the study concludes by noting that “to implement impact investing, funds must decide how the additional social-benefit goal alters the standard, money-focused relationship with investors and entrepreneurs, and how to effect this alteration through its contracts with them.”
“We started our project wanting to confront a common skepticism about impact investing being greenwashing—a repackaging of a traditional investment opportunity without substantive changes.” said the authors in a joint statement, “Our findings confront that skepticism and demonstrate that impact objectives shape the contract terms through direct impact obligations and indirect terms that support the impact mission.” Faculty Co-Director of the Prize, Ayako Yasuda, added additional context noting, “There is a perception held by some in the investment community that impact investing is greenwashing. This paper provides novel contractual evidence that impact funds explicitly mandate impact due diligence and post-investment impact measurement. Costliness of these mandated activities runs counter to the greenwashing argument.”
Anusha Chari, Professor of Economics and Finance at UNC Chapel Hill and one of the Investment for Impact judges, further emphasized the paper’s contributions in assessing the authenticity of impact goals within contract terms: “The analysis is done extremely carefully and provides a very interesting example of how to incorporate legal features into the formalism of a study in empirical finance.”
The full findings of the paper will be presented in November at the Berkeley Sustainable Business & Investment Forum (BSBIF).
The Investment for Impact Prize is managed by the Center for Responsible Business at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and awards outstanding research pertaining to the social impact of capital. The Prize was created to encourage rigorous academic research on the impact of capital investments and to widely disseminate findings across both the academic and practitioner communities.
Allan Spivack, Haas MBA 1979 and CEO of RGI Home, generously sponsored part of the Prize. The Prize is overseen by Faculty Co-Directors Adair Morse, Associate Professor at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, and Ayako Yasuda, Professor at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management.
Questions about the Investment for Impact Research Prize may be directed towards CRB Associate Director Seren Pendleton-Knoll at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABOUT THE BSBIF CONFERENCE
The 4th annual Berkeley Sustainable Business & Investment Forum (BSBIF) is being held November 8-9, 2018 at the UC Berkeley, Haas School of Business in Berkeley, California. Inaugurated in 2015, the Berkeley Sustainable Business & Investment Forum focuses on the evolving concepts of risk management, capital allocation, and sustainable business practices with a focus on long-term value creation. It is a collaboration between the Berkeley Haas Center for Responsible Business, the Berkeley Center for Law and Business, and partners BNY Mellon, PepsiCo, and Camberview.
ABOUT THE BERKELEY HAAS CENTER FOR RESPONSIBLE BUSINESS
Building on 15 years of research, teaching, and industry engagement, the Center for Responsible Business (CRB) brings together students, company leaders and faculty to develop leaders who redefine business for a sustainable future. The CRB, part of the Institute for Business and Social Impact at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, inspires students to re-think traditional business practices, envision the roles that they can play in creating change, and obtain the skills to get there.