Two Nobel Laureates and Other Prominent Academic Thought Leaders Present Cutting-Edge Research During the Gabelli School’s “ESG and the Future of Business” Conference
Featured Events | Nov 21, 2023 | Gabelli School of Business
On November 14, 2023, Iftekar Hasan, Ph.D., university professor and E. Gerald Corrigan chair in international business and finance, and director of the Gabelli School of Business Ph.D. program; and An Yan, Ph.D., The Robert Bendheim chair professor in economics and financial policy, professor of finance and area chair of finance and business economics, and co-director of the School’s Center for Research in Contemporary Finance, along with members of the Gabelli School’s Scientific Committee, hosted a full-day conference titled: “ESG and the Future of Business.” Lerzan Aksoy, Ph.D., dean, George N. Jean Ph.D. chair, and professor of marketing at the Gabelli School of Business, delivered opening remarks.
The Conference attracted top academic thought leaders including Nobel Laureate Lars Peter Hansen, Ph.D., the David Rockefeller distinguished service professor, The University of Chicago departments of Economics, Statistics and the Booth School of Business; and Nobel Laureate Oliver Hart, Ph.D., the Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser university professor at Harvard University.
Hansen delivered a keynote speech on the ways in which to address the uncertainty around climate change. He detailed the challenge of quantifying the economic consequences of climate change and discussed how best guesses and potentially bad outcomes are assigned when designing policy. In addition, he focused on the uncertainty of tradeoffs and posed the critical question: Do we act now or do we wait until we know more?
Hart spoke candidly about the impact of shareholder voice and how it can be amplified to integrate ESG into corporations. He proposed a number of alternative strategies that would allow companies to understand and take shareholders’ voices and social preferences into consideration, potentially transforming companies’ business practices, rather than sticking to the conventional wisdom that companies should maximize shareholder value at all costs.
Caroline Flammer, Ph.D., professor of international and public affairs and of climate at Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), presented on the urgent issue and grand societal challenge of biodiversity loss. Focusing on the potential solutions that may help address the biodiversity “code red” for humanity, which has also been identified as a “critical threat” to the world economy, she outlined the details of how biodiversity finance—a new and not very well understood area—can help to provide the massive amount of funding needed to address the crisis.
Johannes Stroebel, Ph.D., the David S. Loeb professor of finance at the NYU Leonard N. Stern School of Business, spoke to the audience about a study he is conducting on the connection between investors’ ESG beliefs and their portfolio allocations. He presented key facts that have emerged from the ongoing survey, which focuses on whether an investor’s perceptions about ESG issues affect their investment behaviors. The results will ultimately help to define the relationship between intention and action in groups of ESG investors.
Shivaram Rajgopal, Ph.D, the Roy Bernard Kester and T.W. Byrnes professor of accounting and auditing, and chair of the Accounting Division at Columbia Business School, addressed the practice of ESG and highlighted how and why “financial reporting is broken.” He discussed ways in which to move from a stakeholder value add model (SVM) towards a stakeholder welfare add model (SWM) and, from an auditor’s perspective, discussed how issues such as auditor accountability, stakeholder engagement and corporate payoffs, and lobbying factor into improving ESG financial reporting.
Lauren Cohen, Ph.D., L.E. Simmons professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, gave a dynamic presentation on green patents, analyzing all green patents from the 1970s to the present day. His study found that energy firms are important innovators in the green space and have been from the beginning of the study’s selection, creating not only more patents, but more valuable patents that are almost always developed by in-house R&D teams. By driving forward their own patents for green energy, energy firms are influencing other companies to innovate and are making their mark worldwide.
Pedro Matos, Ph.D., the James A. and Stacy Cooper bicentennial professor of business administration and John G. Macfarlane Family chair at the University of Virginia, Darden School of Business, gave the final presentation that focused on whether current efforts to decarbonize institutional investor portfolios is helping to make meaningful improvements that will curb climate change.
Dennis C. Jacobs, Ph.D., Fordham University’s provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, presented awards to each of the speakers, prior to which he addressed attendees of the conference citing the value of ESG as the “bridge between conventional business practices and socially responsible leadership.” He also emphasized Fordham University’s deep commitment to offering its students a transformative education and to fostering high impact research and celebrating exemplary scholarship.
N.K. Chidambaran, Ph.D., associate dean of research and faculty development and professor, Gabelli School of Business, delivered closing remarks and noted that conferences such as these attest to the culture of research at the School.
Attendees of the event enjoyed a lively reception afterwards, with conversation and debate spilling over from the day’s presentations.