A focus group study of the motivation to invest: 'ethical/green' and 'ordinary' investors compared .

A Lewis

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56 Citations (SciVal)


45 ‘ordinary’ investors, in 7 focus groups, and 49 ‘ethical/green’ investors in a further 7 focus groups discussed their various motivations for investing; any moral dilemmas they faced and what they were hoping to achieve. (The use of focus groups is an innovation in this area of research).Interpretations of the results were produced with the aid of NUDIST software and repeated ‘readings’ of the transcriptions. Neither ‘ordinary’ nor especially ‘ethical’ investors were keen to attribute solely economic motives to themselves revealing instead their need to provide for future ‘selves’ and to bequeath. Naturally ‘ethical/green’ investors primarily mentioned avoiding companies who manufacture munitions, are exploitative, and who pollute; more surprisingly perhaps, was the sympathetic hearing ‘ordinary’ investors gave to ethical/green investing. Many ‘ethicals’ invest both ethically and nonethically at the same time providing a moral dilemma that some, but not all, feel a need to explain. Those who did offer an explanation cited ‘inertia’ and their ‘moral’ requirement to make enough money to bequeath by not putting all their money ‘in one ethical egg-basket’. Many participants, especially the ‘ethicals’, felt an unease about contemporary capitalism and current U.K. government policy, suggesting that ethical/green investing had become a necessity because of government ‘failure’ and that it could change the commercial world for the better although the process was admittedly a slow one. By introducing readers to some of the literature on ethical and green investing; presenting and interpreting qualitative data dealing with practical ethics, this paper aims to enrich the notion of rational economic man.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-341
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Socio-Economics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2001


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