On the Financial Performance of Impact Investments and the Behavior of Socially Minded Agents

Student thesis: Doc typesDoctor of Economics and Business Management


Over the past 50 years, sustainability concerns have been gradually taking center stage. In the financial industry, a growing call for increased social responsibility on the part of investors, corporations, and financial institutions led to the birth and development of sustainable finance. Accompanying the expansion of the field, academic research on the topic considerably developed, with researchers investigating a large variety of issues throughout the years. Nevertheless, several fundamental questions remain partially unanswered. It is therefore the objective of this thesis to add to our understanding of such issues and contribute to the literature on sustainable finance. In doing so, we aim to focus on fast-growing and under-researched practices, such as impact investing and social banking, and we principally focus on European markets. We also make use of a large panel of methodologies, from regression analysis and matching algorithm to online survey and incentivized experiment. More precisely, in Chapter 1, we revisit the issue of whether integrating sustainability concerns in financial decisions is consistent with profitability by comparing the financial performance and diversification potential of publicly listed impact and conventional investments. In Chapter 2, we delve into the similarities and dissimilarities between impact and socially responsible mutual funds to contribute to the discussion about whether there exist major differences between the various sustainable investment strategies. Finally, in Chapter 3, we investigate the financial and non-pecuniary motives of social bank owners with the aim of expanding the literature that studies the determinants of sustainable investors’ asset allocation decisions. Overall, our findings point to the presence in financial markets of sustainable investors with important non-pecuniary motivations and who may derive non-financial utility from their asset allocation decisions.
Date of Award5 Sept 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Namur
SponsorsUniversity of Namur
SupervisorOscar Bernal Diaz (Supervisor), Marek Hudon (Co-Supervisor), Wafa Hammedi (President), Ariane Szafarz (Jury), Jean-Yves Gnabo (Jury) & Thi Hong Van Hoang (Jury)

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