Categorical Cognition and Outcome Efficiency in Impact Investing Decisions
33 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2018 Last revised: 7 Aug 2019
Date Written: August 06, 2019
The emerging practice of “impact investing” optimizes both financial and social outcomes, and thus promises to support hybrid organizations that simultaneously pursue financial and social goals. We argue, however, that impact investing decisions may be prone to behavioral factors that limit their outcome efficiency. In a portfolio allocation task designed to reflect the essential features of an impact investing decision, we find across a range of scenarios that individuals systematically fail to choose investment portfolios that achieve financial and social outcomes efficiently and thereby waste opportunities for value creation. We further show in online and in-person experiments that outcome inefficiency is related to “categorical cognition”: suppression of categorical labels on investment options increases efficiency.
Keywords: Impact Investing, Hybrid Organizations, Social Enterprise, Behavioral Economics, Categorical Cognition
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