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Preserving the Integrity of Social Impact Investing: Towards a Distinctive Implementation Strategy

Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering, Politecnico di Milano, 20133 Milano, Italy
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Academic Editors: Olaf Weber and Helen Chiappini
Sustainability 2021, 13(5), 2852; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13052852
Received: 23 December 2020 / Revised: 19 February 2021 / Accepted: 2 March 2021 / Published: 6 March 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Economic and Business Aspects of Sustainability)
Social impact investing (SII) is a strategy of asset allocation that aims to generate social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. Compared to other approaches of sustainable finance it holds an enormous potential of generating solutions to societal challenges. However, scholars have claimed that social impact often just employs logic upheld by the mainstream investment approach. Therefore, the paper investigates the assumption that SII has not developed a distinctive implementation strategy able to translate the prioritization of social impact into practice and how to overcome this issue. The thematic analysis of data collected through 105 interviews with Italian SII financiers and the top managers of social ventures allowed us to identify three features of an SII tailored practice: promoting a cultural shift of intermediaries, adopting a coopetition approach, and integrating the social impact in the terms of the financial transaction. Lastly, the paper drafts a research agenda to enhance the proper theorization of SII focusing on the definition of social risk, social return, and governance mechanisms. The key contribution of this article is confirming the lack of an SII-specific practice able to endogenize the intent of prioritizing social impact and providing suggestions to prevent the risk of impact washing. View Full-Text
Keywords: social impact investing; social venture; coopetition; impact washing; social impact measurement; social risk social impact investing; social venture; coopetition; impact washing; social impact measurement; social risk
MDPI and ACS Style

Bengo, I.; Borrello, A.; Chiodo, V. Preserving the Integrity of Social Impact Investing: Towards a Distinctive Implementation Strategy. Sustainability 2021, 13, 2852. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13052852

AMA Style

Bengo I, Borrello A, Chiodo V. Preserving the Integrity of Social Impact Investing: Towards a Distinctive Implementation Strategy. Sustainability. 2021; 13(5):2852. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13052852

Chicago/Turabian Style

Bengo, Irene, Alice Borrello, and Veronica Chiodo. 2021. "Preserving the Integrity of Social Impact Investing: Towards a Distinctive Implementation Strategy" Sustainability 13, no. 5: 2852. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13052852

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