Accounting Infrastructures and the Negotiation of Social and Economic Returns under Financialization: The Case of Impact Investing

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Abstract

Impact investing has emerged as a topical subject-matter for scholars working at the intersection between finance and social policy. By and large, it is seen as a product of financialization: some argue that the social is colonized by financial actors and methods, others see it as a site where boundary work produces a state of value plurality in which competing values—social and financial—co-exist. This article takes the latter perspective further and unpacks the endogenous dynamics underpinning the creation of social values in impact investing programs. It analyzes how high-level organizations in the field prescribed specific social impact valuation processes and mechanisms for collecting, measuring, and reporting data about value creation. It argues that the social values circulating in the impact investing field emerge from the interplay between a wide array of stakeholders, impact investors included. The social impact accounting tools that capture them materialize therefore as sites of political battles and negotiations between stakeholders, with both emancipatory but also exploitative potential. This has consequences upon our understanding of how financialization travels and how the social dynamics underpinning accounting devices (re)draw boundaries between competing values and fields.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCompetition and Change
Early online date15 Apr 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Apr 2022

Keywords

  • Social policy
  • boundary work
  • financialization
  • impact investing
  • valuation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)

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