Asset Managers' ESG Strategy: Lifting the Veil
43 Pages Posted: 25 Feb 2018
Date Written: November 25, 2017
It appears that asset managers take widely different approaches when it comes to ESG integration. Previous research suggests that they may be receiving conflicting short-term signals from clients, which hinder the responsible investment efforts of asset managers. I investigate whether this is true and whether there are more obstacles. I also look at how asset managers make sense of responsible investment. Given the limited body of qualitative research, too little is known on how responsible investment is perceived, what triggers asset managers to initiate change and how is it integrated in practice. Finally, what differentiates a fully integrated asset manager from one who is not? To answer these questions, I interview 15 asset managers in the Netherlands, the UK and Germany. I find that, in some cases, asset managers decouple what they say from they are actually doing. ESG teams are sometimes used as boundary spanning units to shield the rest of the organization from changes they do not want to make.
Keywords: Organization Theory, Decoupling, Asset Manager, Responsible Investment, ESG integration, Sense-making, Sense-giving, Impediments
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