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Title: Meaningful measurement and applications of environmental, social, and governance information
Author: Lew, Stephen F.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2730 0169
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2011
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In the remarkable developments that have occurred recently in all sectors of society, e.g. environmental, social, and governance (ESG) integration, responsible investing, social entrepreneurship, and strategic philanthropy, the measurement of extra-financial (or non- financial or external) information remains a key issue. While 'making a difference' is the goal of such developments, no integrated externality measurement framework (IEMF) has been proposed, recognized as a reasonable candidate, or adopted by practitioners. The overall objective of this thesis is to develop such an IEMF which would facilitate meaningful measurements and interpretations of the 'quantum of difference' (e.g. in the context of ESG information) and applications thereof towards resource allocation strategies. The aim is not so much to develop some putative 'perfectly accurate model of reality' but an epistemic framework which would serve as a communicative and organizational anchor. The overall objective derives to five research imperatives, which are responded to by five core chapters in the thesis. The following key findings emerge: Finding 1. The ESG metric landscape exists in a patchwork. In particular, while social impact metrics have proliferated recently, they constitute an incoherent domain of its own, separate from the environmental and governance metric literatures. In devising an IEMF, the key challenges include aggregating disparate metrics and disaggregating causalities. Once such a framework has been devised and adopted by practitioners, one can innovate various resource allocation strategies. Finding 2. The attitudes and approaches toward measurement and metrics can broadly be typologized as being fetishistic, positivistic, cynical, and pragmatic. Taking the pragmatic stance allows us to ascribe an appropriate epistemic status to metrics and calibrates the philosophical proclivity of the culminating IEMF. Finding 3. A geography of philanthropic governance exists. In particular, there are variegated similarities and differences in the perceptions and usage of ecosocial metrics. Significant overlaps in the domain and geographic foci of giving signify the feasibility of meaningful comparison, competition and collaboration among such organizations with metrics at the centrepiece. Finding 4. While best practice benchmarks in the usage of metrics in driving positive tangible changes are rare, a highly innovative integrated rural development program known as Saemaul Undong serves as a solid example. It is possible to maximize the efficiency in resource-deployment, induce participation and competition, and scale a parochial initiative to a national level through the usage of performance metrics. Finding 5. Calibrating appropriate philosophical stance, aggregating widely disparate measuranda, disaggregating casual attribution are among the key challenges towards developing an IEMF. Identifying and adopting appropriate formalisms facilitate addressing such challenges. For adoption in practice, however, one must factor in human expertise and judgements when making resource deployment decisions along with the numbers calculated through such a framework. The findings above constitute a series of 'firsts' of the kind in each relevant bodies of literature, paving the way for further explorations.
Supervisor: Wojcik, Dariusz ; Nicholls, Alex Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Impact ; measurement ; quantifying ; philanthropy ; sustainability ; impact ; measurement ; quantifying ; philanthropy ; sustainability