"We Are GSM" - Meet Distinguished Professor Paul Griffin

One of the founding faculty members of the school after earning his Stanford Ph.D., Distinguished Professor Paul Griffin is a leading international expert on accounting and financial information. He now focuses his research on the unpriced risks of climate change in company disclosures. Learn more about his research, teaching and polo playing.

My Research and Teaching

I am Paul Griffin. I am GSM. Actually, I am an original GSM, having served as professor here since 1981 when the school opened its doors. Climate change was not on the radar in ’81, but it is now. And that is what I do.

I conduct research on the unpriced risks of climate change in financial markets. That risk can come from overstated fossil fuel assets that could become worthless.

Lack of disclosure on the perils of climate change induced extreme weather. Lack of disclosure on the emissions levels generated by company products. And lack of recognition of lawsuits that could assign liability for the damage caused by company emission.

At some point, the financial markets will adjust. They’ll have to. I would rather the adjustment be immediate and gradual rather than delayed, disorderly or even chaotic.

Growing the GSM

My articles have appeared in Nature and in the top journals in finance and accounting. With my colleagues and through my teaching and my research, I hope to make a difference. That is what we do. That is GSM.

I was there at Stanford. I was doing a lot of research. I was very interested in the work I was doing. The Davis position opened up and was just a great opportunity to be the first professor at a top school of the country at UC Davis. And I just jumped at that opportunity.  And here we are, 40 years later, and look what’s happened.

Technology, Strategy and Business Development

We are a great school. This quarter, I’m teaching a class that’s called the Evaluation of Financial Information. And what we do is we look at the disclosures and the information that’s coming into financial markets, largely from corporations, and we try to understand what that information really means.

It’s a full course, but we could do a lot of hands-on work with live case studies. Well, for MBA students today, I believe they’re entering a world which is full of challenges, surprises, but opportunities as well, particularly in the area of climate change.

Think about a firm’s emissions that they’re producing. There are ways using radar and technology and so forth to understand an entire corporation’s footprint worldwide. And that requires technology. That requires a strategy. That requires developing businesses that can do what’s called emissions mapping.

Polo is My Passion

In my spare time, what do I do? Most of the time you’ll find me on horseback. I love horses. I’m an equestrian by nature. Currently, I’m an active polo player.

Actually, more important, I’ve developed an interest in sports writing, and I love to watch polo games and write them up as a commentary on the game. And I found that I’ve had a number of magazines that publish my work.

So, I’m not only publishing in Nature and academic journals, I’m a sportswriter. I love that.

We Are GSM.