By Jacob Park and Sonia Kowal
In recent years, socially responsible investment (SRI) has shed its common perception as a niche market and has begun to develop as an important global financial market instrument. It is clear that we are about to enter what the authors call the third stage of socially responsible investing, in which SRI becomes a market reality, if not a force, in a number of emerging economies. What is less certain is the pace of this transition—how quickly the mainstreaming of SRI will materialize outside of North America and Western Europe, specifically in the emerging markets of Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and Africa. To improve the theoretical as well as business practice-based understanding of socially responsible investing in emerging economies, this paper discusses the important strategic, operational, and leadership dimensions at the nexus of corporate responsibility, investing, and emerging markets. Three SRI-related sets of questions will be examined in this article. First, what are the important strategic dimensions at the nexus of corporate responsibility, investing, and emerging markets? Second, what are the critical operational dimensions at the nexus of corporate responsibility, investing, and emerging markets? Third, what are the significant leadership dimensions at the nexus of corporate responsibility, investing, and emerging markets? SRI has had an important impact on social, environmental, and ethical business markets in industrialized countries and is likely to have an equally important impact on emerging economies.
Jacob Park is an associate professor of business strategy and sustainability at Green Mountain College in Vermont specializing in the business of social and environmental innovation and entrepreneurship. He has a special expertise and interest in emerging economies as well as in Japan, China, and the Asia-Pacific region. He is chair of the US Sustainable and Responsible Investment Forum’s International Working Group Steering Committee, and serves on the Renewable Energy and Adaptation to Climate Technologies Investment Sub-Committee of the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund.
Sonia Kowal is the director of socially responsible investing at Zevin Asset Management, LLC, and has had a long-standing career in ethical investments and emerging markets. Sonia holds a BS in Zoology from the University of Edinburgh and an MS in Investment Analysis from the University of Stirling, Scotland. She sits on the US Sustainable and Responsible Investment Forum’s International Working Group Steering Committee, and is interested in the incorporation of corporate social responsibility in emerging market companies.