Return on Sustainability Investment

ROSI™ Research Database

Database of Research on the Role of Sustainability/ESG in Corporate and Investor Financial Performance

NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business aims to provide practitioners and academics with research, insights, and thought leadership on the relationship between sustainability/ESG and financial performance.  In the course of our research, we have examined more than 1,000 articles on the direct relationship between sustainability (or ESG) and financial performance.  It is our pleasure to make the most relevant of these articles available to researchers through the ROSI™ Research Database. 

In addition to providing support for NYU Stern CSB’s ROSI™ methodology, the ROSI™ Research Database was created as part of a research project funded by Rockefeller Capital Management, which examined more than 1,000 academic papers published between 2015 and 2020 on the relationship between sustainability / ESG and financial performance.  A copy of the latest manuscript can be found here, which will be updated with the final version when available.

For an overview, we recommend using the tag “Meta-review or meta-analysis” under the “Article Type” filter, which lists papers that provide a summary of the evidence. Filters such as “Country” or “Industry” will further refine the list of papers accordingly. A sample set of these papers are mapped to the mediating factors that are part of ROSI, with the intent of expanding this set in future versions of the database. The ROSI™ Research Database houses additional insight that scholars, managers, or investors may want to explore. 


Instructions for the ROSI™ Research Database

This database is divided into two main parts:

  1. The central table (the left-hand portion of the database) 
  2. The control panel (the right-hand portion of the database)
  • The central table shows the research title, author, abstract, URL link, and year for each research publication or article, if available. If you click on any cell within the row, you will get additional information related to the publication as well as the link to the resource (there is an option called ‘Link to the Paper’, which you can click on). 
  • The control panel has all of the functionalities to customize your search. 
    • There is a keyword “Search” bar on the top corner; it is a free text search and the corresponding results will appear in the central table. 
    • Below the “Search” bar, there are filters to implement a more refined search. Any selection made here will be visible in the central table. An Excel-friendly version of the database is available on the left-hand side of this page for any further analysis required. 
  • An Excel-friendly version of the database is available on the left-hand side of this page for any further analysis required. 
The database itself is licensed as CC BY 4.0. The copyright for each paper lies with the respective publisher, and it may not be accessible without a charge (authors, however, often make their manuscript available free of charge, which can sometimes be found via Google Scholar). Please note that academic research is constantly evolving. We do not claim that the list of papers is fully comprehensive nor curated with any particular focus. The research database is periodically updated, so if you have any comments, or find that a paper should be included, please contact us at

Criteria for the ROSI™ Research Database

Papers within the ROSI™ Research Database currently follow the criteria listed below:

  1. Discuss financial performance
  2. Have sustainability or ESG components
  3. A majority include an analysis of more than one company or fund
  4. Published within the 2004-2020 time period, with a majority within 2015-2020