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A History of Scandinavian Socially Responsible Investing

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Abstract

This article contributes to the literature on national varieties of socially responsible investment (SRI) by demonstrating how Scandinavian SRI developed from the 60s and onwards. Combining findings on Scandinavian SRI with insights from previous research and institutional theory, the article accounts for the role of changes in societal values and norms, the mechanisms by which SRI practices spread, and how investors adopt and transform practices to suit their surrounding institutional contexts. Especially, the article draws attention to how different categories of investors act as institutional entrepreneurs during specific historical periods, and how these roles come to shift as institutional rule systems of varying societal levels change. Thus, the insights gained are useful in the future research agenda concerned with advancing knowledge on idiosyncrasies and commonalities of national SRI manifestations, and to understand the reasons underlying such characteristics.

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Abbreviations

ATP:

Arbejdsmarkedets Tillægspension

BIC:

Best in class

CSR:

Corporate social responsibility

GPF:

Government pension fund

ILO:

International Labour Organization

KLP:

Kommunal Landspensjonskasse

LO:

Landsorganisationen

NGO:

Non-governmental organization

OECD:

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development

PKA:

Pensionskassernes Administration

SRI:

Socially responsible investing

UN:

United Nations

UNCED:

United Nations Conference on Environment and Development

UN-PRI:

United Nations Principles of Responsible Investment

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Acknowledgements

The author wishes to express his gratitude to Letterstedska Stiftelsen for financial support, and to all those who contributed by agreeing to be interviewed. He also wishes to thank Rebecca Rothstein and Örjan Teleman for their useful comments on earlier drafts of the article.

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Correspondence to Elias Bengtsson.

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Bengtsson, E. A History of Scandinavian Socially Responsible Investing. J Bus Ethics 82, 969–983 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-007-9606-y

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