The impact of state ownership on companies’ sustainability : an empirical analysis of the ESG scores of companies in the EU/EEA
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- Master Thesis 
According to a recent survey by McKinsey (2010), over 50 per cent of executives consider sustainability to be very important to their company. Despite this, companies vary greatly in their focus on sustainability, and we know relatively little about how the ownership structure of a business affects its decision to take a more sustainable approach. In this paper, we analyse the impact of state ownership on companies’ corporate social performance (CSP), using environmental, social and governance disclosure scores (ESG score) compiled by Bloomberg. Even after controlling for confounding variables such as company size and sector, we find that companies partially owned by the state (SOEs) perform significantly better than non-SOEs when it comes to ESG scores. In addition to the average effects, we find that ESG scores increase with the size of the share owned by the state. We also gather qualitative data from semi-structured interviews of six Norwegian companies. The data suggests that our results can be explained by shareholders’ effect on companies’ sustainability and governments’ promotion of sustainability through policies and expectations for companies in their ownership. Moreover, as investors, the state often has a more long-term perspective than private actors, and thus prioritises sustainable development of the company over time.