In absence of regulation, what drives motivation? A qualitative study of pro-sustainable behavior in Swedish private equity

University essay from Handelshögskolan i Stockholm/Institutionen för företagande och ledning

Abstract: Through a qualitative study, this thesis aims to describe what motivates individuals who work in private equity firms to engage in pro-sustainable behavior, which refers to performing job-related activities that reduce the negative impact on, for example, the environment or that address other global challenges. The thesis is based on a sample of 15 individuals, out of which nine are part of the top management team or are officially responsible over the corporate sustainability agenda in their firms. The Self-Determination Theory is used to understand and analyze the individuals' perceptions of challenges and opportunities with sustainable practices within their work. The findings from the cross-sectional study demonstrate several factors that motivate individuals who work in private equity to engage in pro-sustainable behaviors: Having sustainability as a firm goal or official strategy, having leaders and culture that encourage sustainable practices, designing sustainability-related work tasks in an autonomous way and making sustainability personally engaging for individuals. This thesis helps to inform private equity professionals about the motivators and demotivators of sustainability-related work and aims to increase the understanding of which organizational initiatives and what support could be necessary to encourage and sustain effective pro-sustainable behaviors among individuals working in the private equity industry.

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