Sustainable finance is an increasingly important topic. Within companies, sustainability is no longer an ancillary issue confined to CSR departments, but a CEO-level issue fundamental to the core business. Within the investment industry, sustainability used to be the exclusive domain of “socially responsible investors” who had social as well as financial objectives, but is now mainstream, including among investors with purely financial goals. More broadly, the sustainability of business has a crucial impact on how it is viewed by wider society, including policymakers and citizens, including its social license to operate.
Following the success of the Special Issue on China, which is likely to lead to two special issues or one large special issue, the Review of Finance is launching a Special Issue on Sustainable Finance. It will be jointly guest edited by current Managing Editor Alex Edmans and his successor (from 2023) Marcin Kacperczyk, both of whom have worked on this topic for over a decade. We welcome all aspects of research on sustainable finance, which include but are not limited to:
- Research on different aspects of sustainability – not only climate but environmental issues beyond climate, and other stakeholders such as employees, customers, communities, and suppliers.
- Research using non-US data, studying private companies, or asset classes other than equity.
- Research on how company practices (e.g., reporting, signing commitments, governance structures) help to embed sustainability, and how investors do so within their investee companies.
- The effect, and potential unintended consequences, of policy and regulation on sustainability.
- Research on the extent to which asset prices incorporate, or do not incorporate, sustainability, and whether this is through a cash flow and/or cost of capital channel.
- Research on the adoption of green energy, emissions abatement, and the value of stranded assets.
- Contrarian research, e.g., showing that sustainable business practices may not be associated with superior long-term company performance; that sustainable investing may not achieve its desired objectives; or that companies/investors that claim to be sustainable my not actually “walk the talk”.
- The effect of public attitudes and the media on sustainability, and the effect of company/investor sustainability practices on public attitudes.
- Theoretical models of the effect of sustainable practices by companies, investors, and regulators.
- Experimental or survey research on the households’, investors’, or executives’ sustainability preferences or beliefs.
- Methodological papers on the evaluation/certification of sustainability data sets and giving best practice on which ones to use and any issues that arise.
- Descriptive research that does not make causal claims, as long as “clean identification” is not central to the research question being addressed.
The RF‘s standard bar applies, which is that a paper needs to make a substantial contriution to academic knowledge. Thus, survey papers and policy-oriented pieces do not fit the scope of the special issue. To ensure that editorial and refereeing resources can focus on the highest-quality papers, the standard submission fee is required, and we will desk-reject papers that are unlikely to cross the RF’s publication standard.
The submission window is from June 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021. Authors should submit papers using the standard RF submission website and select “Special Issue on Sustainability” as the “Category of Submission” in Step 2. Both Regular and Fast Track submissions will be considered. Papers will be entered into the review process as soon as they are received (i.e., the guest editors will not wait until the end of the submission window before starting the process). As per the RF’s policy, we aim to conditionally accept or reject papers by the second round.
We intend to publish the papers in a single special issue as soon as possible after all papers are accepted. However, depending on the submission flow, we may publish two special issues, which will allow papers submitted and accepted earlier to be published faster. Also, if some papers are on a timely topic which warrants more rapid publication, we may create a “special section” within a regular issue. Even if the papers end up being published across different physical issues, they will be linked online in under the same virtual issue (as with our virtual issues on China, Executive Compensation, Financial Literacy, International Finance, and Politics and Finance).