The Relationship between ESG and Financial Performance Indicators in the Public Sector: Empirical Evidence from the Republic of Serbia
Research Question: This paper investigated whether a relationship exists between environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) performance indicators and financial performance measures in the public sector. Motivation: Performance measurement plays a significant role in public management and public policy and could be considered to be a segment of the whole performance management process. Growing awareness of climate change, human capital and corporate governance issues have imposed the necessity of introducing environmental, social and corporate governance performance indicators (ESG) in public enterprises’ annual reports. ESG performance indicators encourage investors to make socially responsible investment decisions (De Lucia, Pazienza & Bartlett, 2020). Hence, the paper is focused on the specifics of measuring performance in the public sector. Besides, it is very interesting to acquire knowledge about the correlation between ESG indicators and financial performance measures (Kalaitzoglou, Pan & Niklewski, 2020; Landau, Rochell, Klein & Zwergel, 2020). Idea: The purpose of the research is to highlight relevant performance measures in the public enterprises in the energy sector in the Republic of Serbia and to examine whether the application of the ESG indicators implies better financial performance. Data: Four large Serbian companies in the energy sector were analysed. Data were collected on the web site of the Agency for Business Registers of the Republic of Serbia. The observation period is from 2017 to 2019. The financial performance indicators are ROA, ROE and the economy ratio. Tools: Based on annual financial statements, non-financial reporting of public companies is monitored, whether companies invest in environmental and social protection, as well as whether they implement activities directed to more consistent implementation of corporate governance. The dynamics of selected financial indicators is analysed according to base and chain indices. Findings: The results show that the public enterprises in the energy sector of the Republic of Serbia mainly report on traditional financial measures in their annual financial statements. One of them applies all ESG indicators and the others do it partially. However, no direct and positive correlation between ESG indicators and financial performance measures could be found. Conversely, there is the case that ESG indicators have no linkage with the financial performance measures. Contribution: This paper contributes to the existing literature in the field of public enterprises’ sustainability.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.