Sub-theme 24: Can Sustainable Investing be Transformative? Exploring Antecedents, Pathways, and Consequences -> HYBRID sub-theme!

Theresia Harrer
Hanken School of Economics, Finland
Shipeng Yan
Hong Kong University, Hong Kong
Fabrizio Ferraro
IESE Business School, Spain

Call for Papers

Sustainable investing (SI), defined as investment strategies that consider Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) dimensions (The Global Compact, 2005), has been a central topic for multiple scholarly communities such as finance, economics, accounting, marketing, legal, and organization studies. Yet, despite this rich body of works investigating SI, there is growing evidence that it does not (yet) work (e.g., Flammer et al., 2021; Gillan et al., 2021; Kölbel et al., 2020; Matos, 2020; Velte, 2022). SI is “at the crossroad”, both practically and theoretically, and in this sub-theme we are looking to bring together works that help address key challenges.
To date most works that investigate SI adopt an inward-looking perspective that focuses on managing challenges within organizations. We know, for instance, that SI combines diverse logics (notably the financial, social, and environmental logic), and that it is difficult to leverage these logics against each other (Almandoz, 2012; Marquis & Lounsbury, 2007; Yan et al., 2021; Yan et al., 2019). We also know that an inclusive and deliberative dialogue between investors and investees is critical but challenging to establish (Beccarini et al., 2023; DesJardine et al., 2023a; Ferraro & Beunza, 2018; Flammer et al., 2019; Slager et al., 2022). There is furthermore evidence that SI prompts investors to change their evaluation approaches (Arjaliès & Bansal, 2018; Ioannou & Serafeim, 2015) and lays bare the difficulties to reconcile long-term impact and short-term return interests (DesJardine & Bansal, 2019; Hehenberger et al., 2019). Yet, for SI to be effective it requires more outside-looking works that investigate how SI can advocate long-term change in organizations and beyond (DesJardine et al., 2023b; Gibson Brandon et al., 2022).
In addition, most works on SI focus on large, institutional investors in developed countries. For instance, DesJardine et al. (2023a) and Arjaliès and Bansal (2018) investigate hedge funds and investors in the US and France. Similarly, Hehenberger et al. (2019) explore impact investing in Spain. Yet, with the fast-paced development of the market and regulations (e.g., the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) and the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) in the European Union), SI is increasingly relevant for early-stage investors and start-ups (Harrer & Owen, 2022). The global nature of grand challenges (Ferraro et al., 2015) moreover necessitates that SI develops in different countries and contexts, particularly the Global South and Asia (Yan et al., 2021; Yan et al., 2019).
In this sub-theme, we are thus interested in leveraging organization theorists’ unique position to explore how SI can become truly transformative. We invite conceptual and empirical papers that help us develop a) the market conditions that encourage organizational and societal change, b) the mechanisms that lead to organizational and societal change, and c) the positive or negative effects of such mechanisms. The papers can investigate various geographical contexts, and since SI refers to a variety of investment strategies (e.g., impact investing, shareholder engagement, proxy voting, negative or positive screening, etc.) (Atta-Darkua et al., 2023; Eccles et al., 2017), we are also open to insights from diverse SI strategies. Questions can relate to, but are of course not limited to the following:

  • How do different actors from various sectors, fields and contexts shape the SI market?

  • Which investors create and maintain change in investee organizations, and how?

  • Which SI investors fail, and why?

  • Can impact measurement contribute to successful SI, and if so, how?

  • What role do impact reporting standards play in effective SI?

  • How can new technologies such as artificial intelligence help to develop and deliver successful SI strategies?

  • What are the negative outcomes or side-effects of well-intended SI?

  • How do negative side-effects of SI unfold in and beyond organizations?



  • Almandoz, J. (2012): “Arriving at the Starting Line: The Impact of Community and Financial Logics on New Banking Ventures.” Academy of Management Journal, 55 (6), 1381–1406.
  • Arjaliès, D.-L., & Bansal, P. (2018): “Beyond Numbers: How Investment Managers Accommodate Societal Issues in Financial Decisions.” Organization Studies, 39 (5–6), 691–719.
  • Atta-Darkua, V., Glossner, S., Krueger, P., & Matos, P. (2023): “Decarbonizing Institutional Investor Portfolios: Helping to Green the Planet or Just Greening Your Portfolio?” Social Science Research Network.
  • Beccarini, I., Beunza, D., Ferraro, F., & Hoepner, A.G.F. (2023): “The Contingent Role of Conflict: Deliberative Interaction and Disagreement in Shareholder Engagement.” Business Ethics Quarterly, 33 (1), 26–66.
  • DesJardine, M.R., & Bansal, P. (2019): “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: How Negative External Evaluations Can Shorten Organizational Time Horizons.” Organization Science, 30 (4), 761–780.
  • DesJardine, M.R., Shi, W., & Marti, E. (2023): “The Corporate Opportunity Structure for Shareholder Activism: How Activist Hedge Funds Exploit Board Demographic Diversity.” Organization Science, first published online on May 2, 2023,
  • DesJardine, M.R., Zhang, M., & Shi, W. (2023): “How Shareholders Impact Stakeholder Interests: A Review and Map for Future Research.” Journal of Management, 49 (1), 400–429.
  • Eccles, R.G., Kastrapeli, M.D., & Potter, S.J. (2017): “How to Integrate ESG into Investment Decision‐Making: Results of a Global Survey of Institutional Investors.” Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, 29 (4), 125–133.
  • Ferraro, F., & Beunza, D. (2018): “Creating Common Ground: A Communicative Action Model of Dialogue in Shareholder Engagement.” Organization Science, 29 (6), 1187–1207.
  • Ferraro, F., Etzion, D., & Gehman, J. (2015): “Tackling Grand Challenges Pragmatically: Robust Action Revisited.” Organization Studies, 36 (3), 363–390.
  • Flammer, C., Hong, B., & Minor, D. (2019): “Corporate governance and the rise of integrating corporate social responsibility criteria in executive compensation: Effectiveness and implications for firm outcomes.” Strategic Management Journal, 40 (7), 1097–1122.
  • Flammer, C., Toffel, M.W., & Viswanathan, K. (2021): “Shareholder activism and firms' voluntary disclosure of climate change risks.” Strategic Management Journal, 42 (10), 1850–1879.
  • Brandon, R.G., Glossner, S., Krueger, P., Matos, P., & Steffen, T. (2022): “Do Responsible Investors Invest Responsibly?” Review of Finance, 26 (6), 1389–1432.
  • Gillan, S.L., Koch, A., & Starks, L.T. (2021): “Firms and social responsibility: A review of ESG and CSR research in corporate finance.” Journal of Corporate Finance, 66 (3),
  • Harrer, T., & Owen, R. (2022): “Reducing early-stage Cleantech funding gaps: an exploration of the role of Environmental Performance Indicators.” International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, 28 (9), 268–288.
  • Hehenberger, L., Mair, J., & Metz, A. (2019): “The Assembly of a Field Ideology: An Idea-Centric Perspective on Systemic Power in Impact Investing.” Academy of Management Journal, 62 (6), 1672–1704.
  • Ioannou, I., & Serafeim, G. (2015): “The impact of corporate social responsibility on investment recommendations: Analysts' perceptions and shifting institutional logics.” Strategic Management Journal, 36 (7), 1053–1081.
  • Kölbel, J.F., Heeb, F., Paetzold, F., & Busch, T. (2020): “Can Sustainable Investing Save the World? Reviewing the Mechanisms of Investor Impact.” Organization & Environment, 33 (4), 554–574.
  • Marquis, C., & Lounsbury, M. (2007): “Vive La Résistance: Competing Logics and the Consolidation of U.S. Community Banking.” Academy of Management Journal, 50 (4), 799–820.
  • Matos, P. (2020): ESG and Responsible Institutional Investing Around the World: A Critical Review: CFA Institute Research Foundation Literature Reviews,
  • Slager, R., Chuah, K., Gond, J.-P., Furnari, S., & Homanen, M. (2022): “Tailor-to-Target: Configuring Collaborative Shareholder Engagements on Climate Change.” Management Science, first published online on June 15, 2023,
  • The Global Compact (2005): Who Cares Wins: Connecting Financial Markets to a Changing World. Retrieved from
  • Velte, P. (2022): “Which institutional investors drive corporate sustainability? A systematic literature review.” Business Strategy and the Environment, 32 (1), 42–71.
  • Yan, S., Almandoz, J., & Ferraro, F. (2021): “The Impact of Logic (In)Compatibility: Green Investing, State Policy, and Corporate Environmental Performance.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 66 (4), 903–944.
  • Yan, S., Ferraro, F., & Almandoz, J. (2019): “The Rise of Socially Responsible Investment Funds: The Paradoxical Role of the Financial Logic.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 64 (2), 466–501.
Theresia Harrer is a post-doctoral researcher at the Hanken School of Economics in Finland and a research fellow at the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP) at the University of Surrey, United Kingdom. Her work explores how novel contexts such as sustainability reporting and online communities change the communication between organizations and their stakeholders.
Shipeng Yan is an Assistant Professor at University of Hong Kong. His research examines how established organization develop environmental capabilities as well as how novel forms of organizations with an explicit prosocial mission emerge in the financial sector and whether those organizations make an impact to the society.
Fabrizio Ferraro is Professor of Strategic Management (and Department Chair) at IESE Business School, Spain, and Academic Director of the IESE Sustainable Leadership Initiative ( He has published several studies on the global growth of sustainable investing, and on the practice of shareholder engagement. Currently, Fabrizio is studying how political polarization can affect climate action.