Legitimacy and Discourse in Impact Investing: Searching for the Holy Grail
O. Lehner, T. Harrer, M. Quast - Legitimacy and Discourse in Impact Investing: Searching for the Holy Grail - Academy of Management Proceedings, Boston, United States of America, 2019
Impact investing denominates an investment logic that combines social and environmental goals, financial returns as well as personal values. This paper considers the concept of legitimacy to be an appropriate way to understand how actors in the impact investing market signal and influence discourse in order to overcome the inherent liability of newness based on hybrid institutional logics.
Based on two theoretically defined sets of codes, a thematic discourse analysis is conducted by analysing meaningful units derived from documents produced by case-selected actors in the impact investing industry, which are then categorised into rhetorical strategies for legitimacy-building.
The paper finds that actors use diverse legitimation strategies based on their positioning in the impact investing market. These strategies determine the actors’ main discursive foci and, in turn, are affected by the overall organisational activities and mission. Following these interconnected discursive engagements, a communication gap can be demonstrated between investors, intermediaries and social entrepreneurs.