Speaker Series: Hokyu Hwang
Impact investing, globally hyped as a game-changing, market-based funding solution to tackle social and environment problems, promises an imagined future where the quest for social good can be readily combined with one for financial returns. This imagined future seems simply too good not to be true. However, realizing the promise has been elusive.
Drawing on a ten-year field-level case study of efforts to build an impact investing market in Australia, we analyze how the pursuit of this imagined future is legitimated and sustained over a long period. We show how building a market for impact investing, initially introduced as a means to an end, becomes an end in itself, revealing considerable shifts in the bases of legitimacy to sustain this pursuit. We theorize two distinct social mechanisms that account for such shifts. These mechanisms—the cultivation of institutional infrastructure and engagement in a form of cultural entrepreneurship that we dub ‘moral entrepreneurship’—are central to sustaining both belief and efforts to realize the imagined future promised by impact investing.
Hokyu Hwang is a Visiting Scholar at the American Bar Foundation, effecitve November through December, 2022. He is an associate professor in the School of Management and Governance, UNSW Business School, UNSW Sydney. He received his PhD in sociology from Stanford University. His research examines the causes and consequences of organizational rationalization.
He is a two time recipient of the National Research Foundation of Korea Grant (2014-16, 2018-2021). He has written a multitude of book chapters, edited two books, and has had research featured in publications such as Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, and Research in the Sociology of Organizations.