Professor Gordon L. Clark

Senior Consultant and Emeritus Professor


Professor Gordon L Clark DSc (Oxon) FBA was Director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment from 2013 to 2018. He continues as a Senior Consultant and Emeritus Professor at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, with cross-appointments in the Saïd Business School and the School of Geography and the Environment at Oxford University. He holds a Professorial Fellowship at St Edmund Hall, Oxford. He is as well, Sir Louis Matheson Distinguished Visiting Professor at Monash University's Faculty of Business and Economics (Melbourne) and a Visiting Professor at Stanford University. Previous academic appointments have been at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, Harvard Law School (Senior Research Associate), the University of Chicago, Carnegie Mellon's Heinz School and Monash University. Other honours include being Andrew Mellon Fellow at the US National Academy of Sciences and Visiting Scholar Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst at the University of Marburg.

He has held a number of senior administrative posts including Associate Dean (Finance, Graduate Studies) and Dean of the Faculty of Arts at Monash University (Melbourne), Chair of the Faculty Board of Anthropology and Geography (Oxford), and most recently Director and Head of the Oxford University Centre for the Environment. Professor Clark has served on the Social Science Committee of the British Academy, has been an elected member of the Oxford University's Socially Responsible Investment Committee, is an employer-nominated trustee of the Oxford Staff Pension Scheme, is a consultant to MetallRente GmbH, is a Founding Governor of the UK Pension Policy Institute, is the External Advisor to Diageo's Executive Environmental Working Group, and serves on the advisory board of Arabesque. He was a consultant to the Swedish Government's Buffer-fund inquiry, and advised The Kay Review on Equity Markets and Long-Term Decision Making. He is currently advising the Australian Fraser Review of pension fund governance.

An economic geographer, he is interested in the responsibilities and behaviour of investors as regards long-term sustainable investment. This has involved research on institutions' proxy-voting behaviour, the strategies of corporate engagement given concerns about environmental liabilities and the sensitivity of firms to brand image and reputation, the regulation of corporate disclosure on issues related to environment and social responsibility, and the governance of investment institutions that have an explicit long-term mandate. His current research focuses upon the governance of investment decision-making in the context of market volatility and long-term obligations. In part, this project has developed in collaboration with Oxford colleagues and graduate students as well as the PRI, Mercer, the Telos Project, Towers Watson, and the project led by Professor Tessa Hebb at Carleton University (Ottawa) funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Recent related books include the co-edited Managing Financial Risks: From the Global to the Local (OUP 2009) (with Ashby Monk and Adam Dixon), and The Geography of Finance (OUP 2007) (with Dariusz Wójcik).

Related research is focused on the design and management of investment institutions including reference to insourcing, out-sourcing, and off-shoring activities and the demand and supply of financial services relevant to pension funds, endowments, and sovereign wealth funds. Papers on this topic have been published in the Journal of Economic Geography (2013), Environment and Planning A (2014), and Place, Territory and Governance (2014). With Adam Dixon and Ashby Monk, his monograph on the governance and legitimacy of sovereign wealth funds was published by Princeton University Press in 2013. His new book on the organization and management of financial institutions with Ashby Monk will be published by OUP in 2017.

His research on household financial decision-making has focused on long-term saving utilising theories and methods from the behavioural and social sciences in the context of risk and uncertainty. Papers on this topic have been published in the Transactions IBG (2007), Ageing and Society (2008), Environment and Planning A (2009), Pensions: An International Journal (2009), the Journal of Economic Geography (2010) and Urban Studies (2011) supported, in part, by the ESRC, Mercer and Towers Wyatt. With Kendra Strauss and Janelle Knox-Hayes, he is co-author of Saving for Retirement (OUP, 2012). His latest research utilising a large data base of more than 550,000 pension plan participants over 10 years in conjunction with the Monash-CSIRO project. Recent papers available on deal with gambling behaviour, advice-seeking, and decision-making.




MSc in Nature, Society and Environmental Policy

Corporate Environmental Management: The course informs students wishing to act as internal or external change agents for driving corporate environmental performance, as well as those wishing to understand the nature of the modern corporation for research purposes. The course is supported by a selection of practical and academic readings and by class discussion of relevant case studies used to illustrate the points of each lecture.

Corporate Social and Environmental Accountability: In this course, we consider the relationship between corporate responsibility and the role of financial markets in driving the long-term environmental decision-making of corporations. This provides us a way of understanding globalisation, corporate social and environmental standards, and the role of institutional investors in the global economy.

Current Graduate Research Students

  • Pablo Astudillo-Estévez | Path dependence, reinforcement mechanisms and economic complexity in commodity-exporting countries
  • Paulo de Souza | Can society and corporations share the same perspective on sustainability? Should they?

Recent Graduate Research Students (since 2006)

  • Micol Chiesa | Completed DPhil in 2020 | Do firms forget about the environment? Evidence from publicly listed corporations
  • Xuanyi Sheng | Completed DPhil in 2020 | The governance and management of public-private partnerships bringing together stakeholders in the realization of complex engineering projects - One Belt One Road Initiative
  • Theodor Cojoianu | Completed DPhil in 2019 | Environmental investment strategies across the investment value chain: addressing the investment gap in clean technologies - from asset owners to entrepreneurs
  • Jennifer Gooden | Completed DPhil in 2019 | From William James to Twenty-First Century landowners: perspectives on private land conservation
  • Aniket Shah | Completed DPhil in 2019 | The economic geography of development banking for sustainable development
  • Pierre-Louis Choquet | Completed DPhil in 2018 | Fragmented horizons: multinational firms and ethical life in the Anthropocene
  • Elizabeth Harnett | Completed DPhil in 2018 | The diffusion of responsible investment discourses and practices: the role and impact of investment consultants
  • Christopher Kaminker | Completed DPhil in 2018 | The role of institutional investors in financing sustainable energy
  • Stephanie Mooij | Completed DPhil in 2018 | The (mis)alignment of ESG perspectives in the investment chain. A cross-country analysis of the obstacles facing companies, asset managers and asset owners.
  • Michael Urban | Completed DPhil in 2018 | Placing the production of investment returns: an economic geography of asset management in public pension plans
  • Laura-Marie Töpfer | Completed DPhil in 2017 | Mapping Chinese cross-border finance: actors, networks and institutional development
  • Irem Kok | Completed DPhil in 2016 | Politics of transparency: contested spaces of corporate responsibility, science and regulation in shale gas projects of the UK and US
  • Yukie Saito | Completed DPhil in 2016 | Corporate engagement for sustainable business in development
  • Yin Yang | Completed DPhil in 2016 | The economic geography of urban water infrastructure investment and governance - a comparison of Beijing and London
  • Heather Hachigian | Completed DPhil in 2015 | Governance frameworks for responsible investing: the case of sovereign sponsored funds.
  • Sarah-Jane Littleford | Completed DPhil in 2015 | For the benefit of current and future generations: prospects for intergenerational equity in South Africa
  • Sarah McGill | Completed DPhil in 2015 | The economic governance of global commodity markets
  • Dane Rook | Completed DPhil in 2015 | Doxastic spaces: a new approach to relational beliefs and unstable neglect
  • Alex Money | Completed DPhil in 2014 | Corporate water risk and return
  • Aisha Saad | Completed DPhil in 2014 | Contesting corporate social responsibility: public challenges to the modern corporation in the 21st Century