Making Sense of Sovereign Wealth Funds: Entrepreneurial and Political Wish-Images in ‘Building for the Future’ of China and Singapore
Management & Organizational History, 8(1), 77-90, 2013
Posted: 20 Jun 2013
Date Written: January 17, 2013
We explore the nature of two of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) by making sense of two of their controversial investments in US financial institutions. Drawing on core Benjaminian themes, we present an alternative view to purely financial accounts of those investments in terms of an unresolved struggle for influence between contrasting ‘wish-images’ – partly fulfilled ambitions that are shaped by the image holder’s social experiences of nation-building and entrepreneurial reward-seeking in China and Singapore. While this struggle exposes the complex nature of our SWFs, we suggest how our reflections have unexpected implications for their development. Where Benjamin welcomed a ‘critical state’ in which hitherto ignored social experiences may exert a positive influence on social development, the critical state of both SWFs having ‘recovered’ an entrepreneurial dimension for investing has become entangled with, and may damage, their central purpose as sovereign investment houses.
Keywords: sovereign wealth funds, Walter Benjamin, wish-images, presence of mind, urban entrepreneurs, China Investment Corporation, Temasek Holdings
JEL Classification: M00, M19
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