A Speech-Act Model for Talking to Management. Building a Framework for Evaluating Communication within the SRI Engagement Process
- 262 Downloads
Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) has grown considerably over the past three decades. One form of SRI, engagement-SRI, is today by far the most practiced form of SRI (in assets managed) and has the potential to mainstream SRI even further. However, lack of formalized engagement procedures and evaluation tools leave the engagement practice too opaque for such a mainstreaming. This article can be considered as a first step in the development of a standard for the engagement practice. By developing an engagement heuristic, this article offers a more transparent engagement dialog. Drawing on Stevenson’s and Austin’s speech-act theories, this article develops a classification of management’s responses to the signaling of allegations and controversies on two dimensions: a factual dimension concerning (dis)agreements on factual claims and an attitudinal dimension concerning (dis)agreements on responsibilities, values, and norms. On the basis of the distinctions this article develops, the authors provide for a synoptic table and offer a next-step heuristic for the engagement process that started with signaling a concern to management. The article uses an engagement logic that, while keeping the exit option for the investor open, allows management to address signaled concerns without having to let down or to opt out at the first setback in the dialog process between investor and investee corporation.
KeywordsSRI engagement speech act active shareholdership
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Austin J. 1962. How to do Things with Words. Oxford: Oxford University PressGoogle Scholar
- Clark G. L., T. Hebb. 2004. Pension Fund Corporate Engagement. The fifth stage of capitalism. Relations Industrielles/Industrial Relations, 59(1):142–171Google Scholar
- Collier J. 2004. Responsible Shareholding and Investor Engagement in the UK. In: Brenkert G. (ed) Corporate Integrity and Accountability. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, pp. 238–252Google Scholar
- Crook, C.: 2005. ‹The Good Company. A survey of Corporate Social Responsibility’, The Economist, 01/22/2005Google Scholar
- Davis, I.: 2005. ‹What is the Business of Business? By Building Social Issues Into Strategy, Big Companies can Recast the Debate About their Role in Society’, The McKinsey Quarterly 2005(3)Google Scholar
- Forum for the Future: 2002, Sustainability Pays (Co-operative Insurance Society, Manchester)Google Scholar
- Marston C. 2006. A Survey of European Investor Relations. Edinburgh: ICASGoogle Scholar
- Stevenson C. L. 1944. Ethics and Language. New Haven: Yale University PressGoogle Scholar
- Van Braeckel D., J. Leys 2004. Portfolio21: opbouw, ethiek en kenmerken. De Gids op Maatschappelijk Gebied, 95(10):10–23Google Scholar
- Vandekerckhove, W., J. Leys and D. Van Braeckel: 2007, ‹That’s Not What Happened And It’s Not My Fault Anyway! An Exploration of Management Attitudes towards SRI-Shareholder Engagement’, Business Ethics: A European Review 16(4), 403–418Google Scholar