Wharton School Professors Address the Value of Social Impact Investing

Two professors from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School recently published research debunking widely-held assumptions that social impact investing delivers low returns.

The study, entitled “Great Expectations: Mission Preservation and Financial Performance in Impact Investments,” was supervised by Professors David Musto, finance department chair, and Christopher Geczy, adjunct professor of finance and academic director of the Wharton Wealth Management Initiative and the Levy Equity Management Center. Their findings, which revealed that impact funds can indeed achieve a positive financial return, were published by the Wharton Social Impact Initiative (WSII). 

According to its website, WWSI’s objectives are to “develop and promote business strategies for a better world. Through research, consulting, hands-on training and outreach, we are advancing the science and practice of social impact.”

“Our research fills a near-void of rigorous analysis of private investment and social impact outcomes and most importantly the link between the ideals of doing well and doing good,” Geczy said in a recent press release. “The study examines the tension between profits and purpose, also bringing to bear analyses characterizing relative performance as well as statistical certainty about the result. It represents an exciting initial advancement in our ongoing social impact research agenda.”

The study examined 53 impact investing private equity funds, comprised of 557 individual investments. It will serve investors as a useful tool for evaluating the return on social impact investments versus other classes.

The paper is available for download here.


About the Author

Maggie Boccella

Maggie Boccella, a lifelong resident of Philadelphia, is a freelance writer, artist and photographer. She has consulted on various film and multimedia projects, and she also serves as a juror for the city's annual LGBTQIA Film Festival.

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