Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 125, Issue 2, pp 193–210 | Cite as

Social Shareholder Engagement: The Dynamics of Voice and Exit

  • Jennifer Goodman
  • Céline Louche
  • Katinka C. van Cranenburgh
  • Daniel Arenas


Investors concerned about the social and environmental impact of the companies they invest in are increasingly choosing to use voice over exit as a strategy. This article addresses the question of how and why the voice and exit options (Hirschman 1970) are used in social shareholder engagement (SSE) by religious organisations. Using an inductive case study approach, we examine seven engagements by three religious organisations considered to be at the forefront of SSE. We analyse the full engagement process rather than focusing on particular tools or on outcomes. We map the key stages of the engagement processes and the influences on the decisions made at each stage to develop a model of the dynamics of voice and exit in SSE. This study finds that religious organisations divest for political rather than economic motives using exit as a form of voice. The silent exit option is not used by religious organisations in SSE, exit is not always the consequence of unsatisfactory voice outcomes, and voice can continue after exit. We discuss the implications of these dynamics and influences on decisions for further research in engagement.


Engagement process Religious organisations Responsible investment Social shareholder engagement Voice and exit 



Annual General Meeting


Campaign Against Arms Trade


Church Investors Group


Ethical Investment Advisory Group


Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility


Investor Responsibility Research Center


Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation


Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust


Non-Governmental Organisation


People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals


Responsible Investment


Securities and Exchange Commission


Social Shareholder Engagement


United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment



The authors would like to offer their thanks to all the interviewees who took part in this research and to 3iG which facilitated and supported the research process. This work was funded in part by grant 2013FI_B1 00206 (Goodman J.), DEC SUR Government of Catalonia.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer Goodman
    • 1
  • Céline Louche
    • 2
  • Katinka C. van Cranenburgh
    • 3
  • Daniel Arenas
    • 4
  1. 1.ESADE Business SchoolRamon Llull UniversitySant Cugat del VallèsSpain
  2. 2.Audencia School of ManagementNantes Cedex 3France
  3. 3.Rotterdam School of ManagementErasmus UniversityRotterdamThe Netherlands
  4. 4.ESADE Business SchoolRamon Llull UniversityBarcelonaSpain

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