Institutional investor activism on socially responsible investment: Effects and expectations

Business Ethics 18 (3):308-333 (2009)
Concentrated attention on institutional investors' activism has been perceived in the last few decades and further intensified in the post-Enron era. A new area of particular significance that has emerged is institutional investors' growing awareness and practice of socially responsible investment (SRI). This article starts by reviewing the importance of institutional investor activism and the historical implication of SRI. Significantly, various elements that give rise to the growth of SRI in the modern business world are considered in detail. It is recognized that, although current empirical evidence suggests ambiguous effects of SRI, the positive impact of institutional investors' activism on SRI is likely to have been undermined due to the underdevelopment of evaluation systems, and SRI should stand out as a good investment option for its joint financial and societal concerns. Nevertheless, obstructions still exist in the exercise of investor activism and the pursuit of SRI strategy, which implies that, at least in the near future, SRI strategy will remain as a minor investment trend for institutional investors in Anglo-American countries. Additional regulatory methods and awarding schemes are, therefore, expected to motivate institutional investors' activism on SRI, and subsequently to promote global sustainability.
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DOI 10.1111/j.1467-8608.2009.01565.x
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