Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 112, Issue 2, pp 205–212 | Cite as

Mistaking an Emerging Market for a Social Movement? A Comment on Arjaliès’ Social-Movement Perspective on Socially Responsible Investment in France

  • Frédérique Déjean
  • Stéphanie Giamporcaro
  • Jean-Pascal Gond
  • Bernard LecaEmail author
  • Elise Penalva-Icher


In a recent contribution to this journal, Arjaliès (J Bus Ethics 92:57–78, 2010) suggests that the emergence of socially responsible investment (SRI) in France can be best described as a social movement with a collective identity that aimed to challenge the dominant logic of the financial market. Such an account is at odds with a body of empirical studies that approaches SRI in the French context as a process of market creation led by loosely coordinated actors with contradictory and conflicting interests and values, who have mainly complied with—rather than opposed—the existing dominant financial logic of the asset-management field. In this comment, we build on this prior research to contest Arjaliès’ perspective on both theoretical and empirical grounds, with the aim of highlighting the shortcomings of conflating social movements and other forms of collective actions in understanding the building of new markets in organization theory and SRI studies. We contend that in mistaking for social movement forms of collective actions that underpin the emergence of markets, scholars of organization theory may confuse distinct mechanisms in their explanation of SRI emergence across countries, overlook the complex dynamics and interactions of markets and social movements, and, most importantly, fail to evaluate the real political significance of SRI as an empirical phenomenon. We propose that future research on SRI distinguishes carefully “social-movement research as a theoretical framework” from “social movement as an empirical phenomenon” in order to avoid such drawbacks while benefiting from recent advances in social-movement research.


Socially responsible investment Institutionalization Financial markets Comparative studies Social-movement research as a theoretical framework 



Centre Français d’Information sur les Entreprises


Comité Intersyndical de l’épargne salariale


Confédération des syndicats nationaux


Corporate social responsibility


Environmental Policy Research Unit


Observatoire de l’Ethique


Socially responsible investment


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frédérique Déjean
    • 1
  • Stéphanie Giamporcaro
    • 2
  • Jean-Pascal Gond
    • 3
  • Bernard Leca
    • 4
    Email author
  • Elise Penalva-Icher
    • 5
  1. 1.Conservatoire National des Arts et MétiersEcole Management et Société (LIRSA—EA 2430)ParisFrance
  2. 2.Graduate School of BusinessUniversity of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa
  3. 3.HEC MontréalMontrealCanada
  4. 4.IAE de Lille & Rouen Business SchoolMont Saint Aignan CedexFrance
  5. 5.IRISSO-CNRS and Université Paris-DauphineParis Cedex 16France

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