About the chair‎ > ‎


A research Chair

ESSEC’s Philanthropy Chair is a research team which aims to reinforce the social impact of individual donors, corporate donors, foundations and impact investors. We do this by producing and sharing research about philanthropy, primarily in France and Europe. Creating dialogue between research and practitioners forms a major part our mission, as these worlds are still too far apart.

We have a particular interest in:

  • developing an understanding of the distinctive character of European philanthropy;
  • promoting better standards of governance and strategy in philanthropic initiatives
  • helping philanthropists to measure the efficiency and impact of their initiatives
  • putting forward quality training courses, whether for ESSEC students or full-time professionals

A European focus

The majority of research, understanding and data on philanthropy is based on the American experience. This is undoubtedly due to the close ties between the development of philanthropy and capitalism in the early history of the US, as well as the dynamism of American civil society today. However, other philanthropic traditions and practices can be found elsewhere, notably in Europe. 

If until recently European philanthropy was an under-explored domain, in the past few years, several programmes and research centres have opened, notablythe Center for Philanthropic Studies (University of Amsterdam), the Erasmus Centre for Strategic Philanthropy (Erasmus University Rotterdam), the Centre for Social Investment (University of Heidelberg), the Centre for Charitable Giving & Philanthropy (a partnership between 5 British Universities), the Centre for Philanthropy Studies (University of Basel) and the Baillet Latour Chair on Social Investment & Philanthropy (Université de Liège).
ESSEC has played an active part in this recent flourishing since its foundation and joined the European Research Network on Philanthropy, ERNOP, which was launched in 2008. In hosting the 7th annual ERNOP conference in July 2015, ESSEC’s Philanthropy Chair demonstrated its ambition to make a decisive contribution to bringing together European scholars working on philanthropy.

Broadening the field: looking towards Asia

Asian philanthropy too is flourishing. A number of countries, including China, India or Japan, have long-standing traditions of philanthropy – often low-key, patriarchal in nature and focused on the donor’s community or region. In many cases, there are close ties between the family business and family philanthropy. Globalisation and economic development throw Asian philanthropy in sharp relief: we see a field which is renewing itself, professionalizing, becoming more open to women and demanding greater social impact. In Singapore, Hong Kong and further afield, professional foundations finance social innovation and philanthropists begin to have a public presence.

As in Europe – more so even – philanthropy is a little-known phenomenon with immense potential. ESSEC has had a presence in Singapore since 2005, which has been recently reinforced by a campus at Nepal Hill. Capitalizing on this  use of this presence and the Chair’s expertise, we wish to create comparative data and research on Asia and Europe.