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Perception of ESG criteria by mainstream investors: evidence from Tunisia

Souhir Khemir (CREGO-EA 7317, University of Haute-Alsace, Mulhouse, France)

International Journal of Emerging Markets

ISSN: 1746-8809

Article publication date: 12 February 2019

Issue publication date: 22 November 2019




The purpose of this paper is to explore the perception of environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria by mainstream investors in an emerging financial market, that of Tunisia, country at the origin of the Arab Spring.


A series of focus groups and semi-structured interviews were conducted with financial professionals.


Despite efforts by the Tunisian state to promote CSR and ESG criteria since the outbreak of the revolution of January 14th, 2011, the results show that these criteria are fairly well known by our interlocutors. As part of an investment allocation decision, the ESG criteria are considered as secondary to financial ones. The three criteria are classified as follows according to their usefulness in the investment choices of financial professionals: corporate governance, social and environmental.

Research limitations/implications

In addition to the subjective nature of the data collected, this research is limited to the input of only financial professionals. It does not inform us about ESG indicators that may influence the investment decisions of financial professionals, and thus this issue deserves further reflection.


This exploratory study sheds light on a little-explored topic in Tunisia, country at the origin of the Arab Spring. It contributes to the existing literature in the areas of investor behavior toward ESG criteria and adds to the limited literature in the area of emerging countries.



Khemir, S. (2019), "Perception of ESG criteria by mainstream investors: evidence from Tunisia", International Journal of Emerging Markets, Vol. 14 No. 5, pp. 752-768.



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