Must social performance ratings be idiosyncratic? An exploration of social performance ratings with predictive validity

Svanberg, J., Ardeshiri, T., Samsten, I., Öhman, P., Neidermeyer, P.E., Rana, T., Maisano, F., & Danielson, M. (2023). Must social performance ratings be idiosyncratic? An exploration of social performance ratings with predictive validity. Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal 14 (7) 313-348. 10.1108/SAMPJ-03-2022-0127.

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The purpose of this study is to develop a method to assess social performance. Traditionally, environment, social and governance (ESG) rating providers use subjectively weighted arithmetic averages to combine a set of social performance (SP) indicators into one single rating. To overcome this problem, this study investigates the preconditions for a new methodology for rating the SP component of the ESG by applying machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) anchored to social controversies.

This study proposes the use of a data-driven rating methodology that derives the relative importance of SP features from their contribution to the prediction of social controversies. The authors use the proposed methodology to solve the weighting problem with overall ESG ratings and further investigate whether prediction is possible.

The authors find that ML models are able to predict controversies with high predictive performance and validity. The findings indicate that the weighting problem with the ESG ratings can be addressed with a data-driven approach. The decisive prerequisite, however, for the proposed rating methodology is that social controversies are predicted by a broad set of SP indicators. The results also suggest that predictively valid ratings can be developed with this ML-based AI method.

Practical implications
This study offers practical solutions to ESG rating problems that have implications for investors, ESG raters and socially responsible investments.

Social implications
The proposed ML-based AI method can help to achieve better ESG ratings, which will in turn help to improve SP, which has implications for organizations and societies through sustainable development.

To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this research is one of the first studies that offers a unique method to address the ESG rating problem and improve sustainability by focusing on SP indicators.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Artificial intelligence, Machine learning, ESG, Social performance indicators, Weighting problem, Social controversies, Socially responsible investment
Research Programs: Advancing Systems Analysis (ASA)
Advancing Systems Analysis (ASA) > Cooperation and Transformative Governance (CAT)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 03 Nov 2023 08:05
Last Modified: 29 Apr 2024 12:40

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