Asset Owners and the Diffusion of Responsible Investment. What Explains the Low Rate of Adoption?
38 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2017
Date Written: July 31, 2017
Asset Owners are significant, powerful investors and can play a leading role in ESG integration and the move towards a longer-term horizon. Unfortunately, little has changed so far in terms of moving towards more sustainable and responsible business practices. To find what influences the rate of adoption on the Asset Owner level, I conduct 10 interviews with major players in the UK, the Netherlands and Germany. I find that they prefer to hire an Asset Manager who integrates ESG, but that they struggle to translate this into action. Looking at the perceived attributes of Responsible Investment, I find that its complexity, relative advantage and trialability impede the rate of adoption. I also find that there is too little dialogue for this complex innovation and that Asset Owners are making too little effort. Overall, German AOs are lagging behind compared to those in the Netherlands and the UK. However, they are not as large and have significantly less exposure to equity. This means that they also do not have as much of a responsibility to drive Responsible Investment forward.
Keywords: Asset Owners, Responsible Investment, ESG integration, Impediments, Long-termism, Innovation Diffusion
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