My PhD project is a part of the research Project AlterEcos - Exploring Alternatives to Currently Dominant Forms of Economic Organizing, which is funded by Velux foundation. The research project focuses on alternative organizing within the financial sector, and here will my PhD project contribute with an sector perspective.
My project focuses on how alternative organisations live side by side with the mainstream organisations, and the opportunities and challenges that comes with this position. More specifically, social banks have prospered alongside mainstream banks the last thirty years, while successfully keeping their alternative edge. Social banks differs from conventional banks through integrating a triple-bottom-line approach in their investment decisions, maximizing transparency and focusing their economic activity in the ‘real’ economy opposed to the speculative synthetic financial economy. Their business model has been hailed as successful as they were not negatively affected by the last financial crisis. Social banks actually came out of the crisis even stronger, as many unhappy costumers voted with their money and changed from conventional banks to social banks.
This is the picture presented in the fairly new and mostly descriptive literature on social banking. My project wants to critically look at the concept of social banking to understand the potential and challenges of social banking. More specifically how do alternatives emerge, what happens with alternatives in fast growth, and how do alternative handle the tension between external pressure, such as regulation, and internal values and organizational forms (that constitute the alternative). To aid my analysis I will use theories on alternative organizing, which is a stream within critical management theories, and a combination of institutional logics combined with French Pragmatist Sociology, more specifically Boltanski and Thevenot’s theory on Orders of worth.