Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 116, Issue 1, pp 21–48 | Cite as

Think Global, Invest Responsible: Why the Private Equity Industry Goes Green

  • Patricia Crifo
  • Vanina D. Forget


The growth of socially responsible investment (SRI) on public financial markets has drawn considerable academic attention over the last decade. Discarding from the previous literature, this article sets up to analyze the Private Equity channel, which is shown to have the potentiality to foster sustainable practices in unlisted companies. The fast integration of the environmental, social and governance issues by mainstream Private Equity investors is unveiled and appears to have benefited from the maturation of SRI on public financial markets and the impetus of large conventional actors. Hypotheses on the characteristics and drivers of this movement are proposed and tested on a unique database covering the French Private Equity industry in 2011. Empirical findings support that Private Equity socially responsible investing is characterized by investor engagement and strategically driven by a need for new value creation sources, increased risk management and differentiation. In particular, results show that independent funds, which need to attract investors, are more likely than captive funds to develop socially responsible practices. Evolution of the movement and future research paths are proposed.


Corporate finance Corporate Social Responsibility France Multi-factorial analysis Private Equity Engagement Socially responsible investment Strategy 



Corporate Social Responsibility


Environmental, social, and governance


Leveraged buyouts


Socially responsible investment


United Nations Principles for Responsible Investing



We would like to thank Novethic (Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations, France) for granting us access to survey data. Support of the Chair for Sustainable Finance and Responsible Investment (Chair FDIR, Toulouse-IDEI and Ecole Polytechnique) is gratefully acknowledged. We are grateful to two anonymous referees as well as participants at the CSR seminar of the Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School for their insightful suggestions and very useful comments. All errors remain our own.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsEcole Polytechnique ParisTechPalaiseauFrance
  2. 2.University Paris West Nanterre La Défense, EconomixNanterreFrance
  3. 3.CIRANOMontrealCanada
  4. 4.AgroParisTech, ENGREFParisFrance

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