Barriers for Responsible Investments: Facilitating a Greener Economy : -A Multiple Case Study of Asset Management Companies
Abstract: Purpose – The purpose of this research is to develop and contribute with an improved understanding of socially responsible investing and its barriers within the asset management sector. To accomplish the purpose of this research, four areas have been investigated; sustainability, business models, socially responsible investing, and barriers for socially responsible investing. Method – Since the research aimed to use the existing theory, and at the same time explore and gain understanding within the area of sustainable, or responsible, investments, the research approach had iterative characteristics with theoretical and empirical findings. Therefore, an abductive research approach was chosen. For the gathering of data, a multiple case study was conducted by interviewing people working within asset management companies. For the analysis of the data, constant comparison, multilevel interviews, and thematic analysis were used. Results – First, the results indicate that socially responsible investments have greatly affected the business models for asset management companies, and responsible investments are starting to become more of a hygiene factor than a way of differentiation. Second, the most significant barrier for the increase of responsible investments is preconceptions and lack of knowledge. This barrier is rooted in an underlying issue, that is lack of transparency regarding asset management companies’ investments. Furthermore, the findings indicate that government actions within the market invested in, was not such a grand barrier as presented in the literature. Theoretical contributions – The main theoretical contribution with this research is the identification of the barrier preconceptions and lack of knowledge, as this is not highlighted in the literature, but among the asset management companies it was highly significant. By analyzing the findings with an institutional theory lens, it is an understandable behavior as there are no incentives for change, hence the managerial contributions consist of regulations. Managerial contributions – The practical contributions with this report is the need for reformed regulations in the industry where asset management companies are operating, in order to increase transparency. By seeing the issue through the lens of institutional theory, it is unlikely for self-regulations to happen as the incentives are not great enough. For self-regulation to happen, the agency costs need to surpass the costs for increased responsible investments, as it would generate enough incentives for a change to happen.
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