Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 93, Issue 3, pp 483–494 | Cite as

Morals, Markets and Sustainable Investments: A Qualitative Study of ‘Champions’

Article

Abstract

Sustainable investment (SI), which integrates social, environmental and ethical issues, has grown from a niche market of individual ethical investors to embrace institutional investors (e.g. pension funds) resulting in £764 billion in assets under management in the UK alone [Eurosif, 2008: ‘European SRI Study 2008’ (Eurosif, Paris)]. Explaining this growth is complex, involving shifts in personal and collective values, reactions to corporate scandals, scientific and media pronouncements about climate change, Government initiatives, responses from financial markets and the influence of SI innovators in The City of London. The article examines the influence of human agency through interviews with 14 SI champions who have variously been responsible for launching SI funds and changing investment processes and organisational structures in order to enhance SI. Interviewees were asked about their motivations and persuasive strategies, the obstacles they faced and how they overcame them as well as broader implications of SI for financial markets. The following key categories inform the results and the discussion: Values; Conservatism, Antipathy and Incredulity; Optimism and Sympathy from Insiders; The Social and Political Context; The Business Case; Organisational Constraints; Inappropriate forms of Remuneration; Short-termism; The Nature of Capitalism. Three discourses were also identified. The first is the necessity to make a business case for SI; the second is the benefits that SI can bring to the quest of overcoming short-termism; the third is a belief that for SI to have a significant influence, greater government intervention is required.

Keywords

championship discourse human agency innovation morals and markets qualitative sustainable investment 

Abbreviations

CSR

Corporate social responsibility

EIRIS

Ethical investment research and information service

SI

Sustainable investment

SRI

Socially responsible investment

ESG

Environmental, social and corporate governance (factors)

Eurosif

European social investment forum

UKSIF

UK social investment forum

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Ashford, S., N. Rothbard, S. Piderit and J. Dutton: 1998, “Out on a limb: the role of context and impression management in selling gender-equity issues”, Administrative Science Quarterly 43(1), 23-57. doi:10.2307/2393590 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Boxenhaum, E. and J. P. Gond: 2006, ‘Micro-strategies of Contextualization: Cross-National Transfer of Socially Responsible Investment’. Working Paper No. 06-24. Danish Research Unit for Industrial Dynamics, Copenhagen.Google Scholar
  3. DiMaggio, P. J.: 1988, “Interest and agency in institutional theory” in L.G. Zucker (Ed), Research on Institutional Patterns and Organizations: Culture and Environment (Ballinger, Cambridge, MA), pp. 3-22.Google Scholar
  4. Dutton, J.E. and S.B. Jackson: 1987, “Categorizing strategic issues: Links to organizational action”, Academy of Management Review 12 (1), 76-90. doi:10.2307/257995 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Etzioni, A.: 2000, The Third Way to a Good Society (Demos, London).Google Scholar
  6. Eurosif: 2006, ‘European SRI Study 2006’ (Eurosif, Paris), http://www.eurosif.info/publications/sri_studies. Retrieved 10 Dec 2007
  7. Eurosif: 2008, European SRI Study 2008. United Kingdom (Eurosif, Paris). Retrieved September 1, 2009 from http://www.eurosif.org/publications/sri_studies.
  8. Friedman, M.: 1962, Capitalism and Freedom (Chicago University Press, Chicago).Google Scholar
  9. Gribben, C. and L. Olsen: 2003, ‘Will UK Pension Funds Become more Responsible? A Survey of Member Nominated Trustee’ (Just Pensions/Ashridge Centre), http://www.ashridge.org.uk/Website/IC.nsf/wFARPUB/Will+UK+Pension+Funds+Become+More+Responsible+A+Survey+of+Member+Nominated+Trustees. Retrieved 12 Sep 2006
  10. Horack, S., J. Leston and M. Watmough: 2004, ‘The Myners Principles and Occupational Pension Schemes’ (Electronic version). DWP Research Report No. 213.Google Scholar
  11. Howell, J.M., and C.A. Higgins: 1990, “Champions of technological innovation”, Administrative Science Quarterly 35 (2), 317-341. doi:10.2307/2393393 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Howell, J.M., and C.M. Shea: 2001, “Individual differences, environmental scanning, innovation framing and champion behaviour: key predictors of project performance”, The Journal of Product Innovation Management, 18 (1), 15-27. doi:10.1016/S0737-6782(00)00067-9 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Juravle, C. and A. Lewis: 2008, ‘Identifying Impediments to SRI in Europe: A Review of the Practitioner and Academic Literature’, Business Ethics: A European Review 17(3), 285–310Google Scholar
  14. Lewis, A.: 2002, Morals, Markets and Money: Ethical and Socially Responsible Investing (Prentice Hall/Financial Times, London).Google Scholar
  15. Lewis, A. and C. Mackenzie: 2000, “Morals, Money, Ethical Investing and Economic Psychology”, Human Relations 53(2), 179-191.Google Scholar
  16. Louche, C. and S. Lydenberg: 2006, ‘Socially Responsible Investment: Differences Between Europe and United States’, Vlerick Leuven Gent Working Paper Series 22, http://www.vlerick.be/research/workingpapers/vlgms-wp-2006-22.pdf. Retrieved 2 Mar 2007
  17. Sandberg, J., C. Juravle, T. Hedesström and I. Hamilton: 2009, ‘The Heterogeneity of Socially Responsible Investment’, Journal of Business Ethics 87(4), 519–533.Google Scholar
  18. Sparkes, R.: 2002, Socially responsible investment: A global revolution (Wiley, Chichester, UK).Google Scholar
  19. Sparkes, R. and C.J. Cowton: 2004, “The maturing of socially responsible investment: A review of the developing link with corporate social responsibility”, Journal of Business Ethics 52(1), 45-57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Sullivan, R. and C. Mackenzie: 2006, Responsible investment (Greenleaf Publishing, Sheffield, UK).Google Scholar
  21. SustainAbility: 2000, ‘A Responsible Investment? An Overview of the Socially Responsible Investment for the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, British Airways, Dow Chemical, Ford Motor Company and the NatWest Group’ (Electronic version). Centre for Business Performance and Sustainability Ltd, London, http://www.sustainability.com/insight/sri-article.asp?id=138. Retrieved 10 Dec 2007
  22. Willman J. and F. Harvey: 2007, ‘CBI backs new UK green taxes’, Financial Times, November 26 2007, http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/0931c736-9bc1-11dc-8aad-0000779fd2ac.html. Retrieved 7 Dec 2007
  23. Zucker, L. G. (eds.): 1988, Institutional Patterns and Organizations: Culture and Environment (Ballinger, cambridge, MA).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BathBathU.K.

Personalised recommendations