Three aspects of impact investing: a qualitative inquiry into an emerging field
This PhD by publication offers an inquiry into the rapidly growing field of impact investing through the qualitative analysis of three stories introduced in three articles. Chapter 1 of this thesis offers an introduction to impact investing which is seen as a new way of addressing society’s greatest challenges by connecting purpose and profits. Chapter 2 then offers a literature analysis of the field to set foundations for impact-investing scholars. Based on neo-institutional theory and the analysis of 80 academic publications, Chapter 2 offers a multilevel impact-investing model which details the macro (institutional), meso (organisational) and micro (individual) levels and the processes by which actors collaborate within and across levels to create outcomes. The literature analysis goes further by also offering a thematic analysis of impact-investing definitions. Finally, the study identifies knowledge gaps and proposes new directions for impact-investing research, with an emphasis on interconnectedness and multilateral understanding between macro, meso and micro actors. Chapter 3 is based on a study which utilises Schwartz’s (1992, 1994) basic values theory to better understand investors’ and investees’ value (in)congruence and its underlying mechanisms and outcomes. Based on 17 investor–investee dyads, this study develops the impact-investing value (in)congruence model and offers a novel typology of four patterns: (1) Nirvana, (2) Yin and Yang, (3) Soul Searching and (4) Shiva. These patterns reveal different constellations of value (in)congruence in investor–investee relationships: the model and typology contribute to the literature on impact investing by providing the angle of values in impact-investing relationships. The implications for research, practice and business ethics in impact investing are discussed. Chapter 4 is a study which draws on Latourian actor-network theory (ANT) and Foucauldian critical discourse analysis (CDA) as a conceptual framework and methodology to study intentions and agency in impact investing. The article argues that Latour and Foucault provide us with the conceptual means to deconstruct the role of intentions in the construction of social and commercial discourse, and to conceptualise agency. The analysis provides a theoretical account of impact entrepreneurs and their ‘prior intentions’ and ‘intentions-in-action’. The model extends the theoretical boundaries of impact investing with meaningful implications for research and practice. Chapter 5 offers a discussion and conclusion of this thesis.