PhD defence at MSC: Impact Investing Strategies


Anirudh Agrawal

MSC PhD student Anirudh Agrawal successfully defended his PhD dissertation on 29 October. Below, some of the main findings of the dissertation, Impact Investing Strategies, are summarised.


Access to finance at a ‘fair price’ is one of the major issues in many economies. Both developed and developing economies struggle to fund promising social entrepreneurs. The traditional financial systems are designed to discourage promising social entrepreneurs without any collateral from obtaining financial services. To address this disequilibrium in the finance ecosystem, impact investing is one of the most promising, innovative types of financing aimed at making the financial system more inclusive. In this context, Anirudh Agrawal’s doctoral thesis investigates impact investing, historical

development, distinction, investment strategies, and their relationship with investee firms. 


The dissertation is composed of three articles, each contributing to impact-investing field by drawing insights from the institutional theory, institutional logic, impact investing, and social entrepreneurship literature. The research design of this dissertation primarily relies on a systematic literature review for understanding the current status of the field, interviews, and multiple case studies for developing an in-depth understanding of the process, strategy, and application of impact investing.

Read more about the three articles of the dissertation
The first article is a review of 85 impact investing articles that explore the longitudinal growth of the field and compare the development of impact investing scholarship with the Kuhnian scientific paradigm.  For impact investing scholarship to develop into an established field of inquiry, scholars must expand the scope of inquiry by studying different aspects of the field’s intra-organizational, inter-organizational, and institutional complexities using novel theoretical positions. 

Second article is an analysis of multiple cases of six impact investing firms and their investees based out of India, exploring the inter-organizational collaboration between impact investors and investee social enterprises. Using competing logics literature and inter-organizational literature, the article provides insights into impact investing and investee social enterprises. It further empirically recommends strategies for long-term engagement and sustainable value creation between impact investing and investee social enterprises. 

The third article explores questions related to variance among impact investors at the global level and examines the impact of investment strategies. To answer these questions, the article presents an interview of impact investors from 22 cases of impact investing firms. Based on the context, the article suggests three distinct categories of impact investing. Similarly, using context and the literature on value creation, it suggests three separate impact investing strategies.

The dissertation provides a clear understanding of the current growth in impact investing and future research possibilities. Also, the articles suggest a list of impact investing strategies that impact investors should pursue. The articles discuss how impact investors and investee social enterprises must interact to establish a sustainable collaboration that ensures long-term value creation.  The legitimacy of impact investing is linked to how well it selects and invests in social enterprises, therefore, the thesis helps to understand the dyadic relationship between investor and investee.


Many Studies on impact investing consider impact investing as merely a practice of investing with social and financial benefits. Given the vast institutional difference between the global north and the global south, how social and commercial expectations vary remains is explored in the thesis which further helps both practitioners and academics to explore impact investing. Overall, Anirudh Agrawal’s dissertation makes a significant contribution to impact investing and expands upon the knowledge base of practitioners investing in social enterprises.


The page was last edited by: Department of Management, Society and Communication // 12/05/2020