This event has now finished.
  • Date and time: Wednesday 22 March 2023, 2pm to 3pm
  • Location: In-person and online
    CL/A/057, Church Lane Building, Campus West, University of York (Map)
  • Audience: Open to staff, students
  • Admission: Free admission, booking not required

Event details

In this talk, Professor Jason Miklian explores Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investing, which is one of the most common, yet divergently defined concepts in business. Most firms have incorporated ESG principles, and some $18 trillion in global assets are ESG-aligned, triggering a critical phase of ESG study. Meanwhile, many retail investors consider “ESG investing” as effectively synonymous with “impact investing”, and investing in ESG-marked products a shorthand way to "do good" by investing in a more socially responsible manner. Thus, we today find a dizzying array of ESG definitions across the normative vs. positivitstic axis, and the "thick" vs. "thin" interpretative axis. While one might expect such divergences across the business, consultative and policy spheres given wishes to make ESG fit into whichever frameworks provide the most individual conceptual value, we find similar discongruity and definition creep within the scholarly space as well. 

To make sense of this evolving landscape, trace the transition and meaning of these evolutions, and deliver an actionable framework for aligning myriad perspectives for what ESG is and represents today, I have collected, analysed, and categorised definitions of “ESG” across the scholarly and investment landscape. I present a database of existing definitions from 1,000 high-impact scholarly, consultative, and policy articles on ESG over the 2012-2022 period. This talk will present an analysis of four major conceptual categorizations of ESG definitions across these works, incorporating normative, descriptive, empirical, and aspirational definitions. I discuss the impacts and consequences of these divergences, including the qualitative-quantitative shift, definitional expansion, and “definition shopping”. 

I conclude with recommendations to academics and practitioners for employing ESG definitional best practice to improve scholarship and provide better guidance and clarity to stakeholders.

The School for Business and Society is co-hosting this event with the Interdisciplinary Global Development Centre (IGDC). 

Zoom link

Meeting ID: 99136348928
Passcode: 107510

About the speaker

Professor Jason Miklian

Jason Miklian (PhD) is a Senior Researcher in business and peacebuilding at the Centre for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo. Miklian has published 75 high-impact academic articles and policy reports on business and peacebuilding since 2010 and is considered a top global expert in the field of business, peace, and crisis. Miklian has conducted deep fieldwork on business and conflict in over twenty countries, consulted dozens of firms on their roles in conflict-affected and fragile spaces, and sits on numerous boards and high-level expert panels, including a UN panel for Business and Human Rights. Miklian has extensive experience generating high-impact publicity, including in The Economist, New York Times, Foreign Policy, Harvard Business Review, Washington Post, Global Policy, and Financial Times, among others on this topic.


Interdisciplinary Global Development Centre

Venue details

  • Wheelchair accessible
  • Hearing loop