The impact of executives’ characteristics and personal values on ESG decision-making. Evidence from Finland

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School of Business | Master's thesis
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This thesis investigates the intricate relationships between cultural values, executive characteristics, and ESG decision-making. The study deploys quantitative methods to evaluate the connection between executives’ traits, values and ESG decisions. A total of 1024 executives from publicly listed firms in Finland were surveyed. A total of 111 executives responded to the survey. The study found that females and executives in a latter age group exhibited higher benevolence and universalism values and higher ESG scores. In contrast, male executives generally displayed higher power and achievement values and slightly lower ESG scores. Findings indicate a significant correlation between ESG-oriented decisions and executives' values such as universalism and achievement. Executive roles partially influenced ESG orientation. The data indicates that executive teams with a diverse mix of gender, age, and education levels are more likely to foster stronger ESG initiatives. The findings also reveal that de-spite developing at early age, values could shift based on aspects such as a role and age. Additionally, this thesis findings point out that male and female executives have some difference on which values are primary ones. Despite intriguing correlations observed between roles, values, and their influence on ESG orientation these relationships need further exploration. The research revealed a homogeneous pattern in Finnish executive teams in terms of gender, age, and tenure, pointing to potential implications for firms and stakeholders regarding ESG decision-making. However, it is emphasized that correlation does not necessarily imply causation, necessitating further research for definitive establishment of these relationships and other potential influences. This study underscores the crucial role of personal values in ESG-oriented decision-making among executives, opening avenues for future research. This thesis is a step towards understanding the complex dynamics of personal values, demographics, and roles in executives' ESG decision-making. This thesis contributes to the understanding of how these elements can shape corporate sustainability, laying a solid foundation for future studies in this realm. Future implications for research include intercultural values and executive characteristics on a corporation's ESG efforts.
Thesis advisor
Ikäheimo, Seppo
ESG, personal values, executives’ characteristics, corporate governance
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