Impact Investing: Review and Research Agenda

Anirudh Agrawal*, Kai Hockerts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Impact investing is an emerging alternative asset class. In the last few years, the investment in impact investing has grown many folds, however the research has not kept pace with the growing practitioner interest. The lack of knowledge about the field coupled with the lack of knowledge production of field might be dangerous in the long run. This is a systematic review of impact investing. This systematic review involves study of 85 published articles and reports. This literature was collected using the harzing’s publish or perish academic search engine and cross-checked against databases such as JSTOR and Web of Science. This review has four major contributions. First, the study reveals a unique longitudinal perspective on how the field is evolving and moving from pre-paradigm stage to the stage of proper scientific inquiry. It reveals that the field is evolving, as the reviewed literatures find that a higher number of empirical works were published recently. Second, the field impact investing is unique on six characteristics namely (1) capital invested, (2) degree of engagement with the investee, (3) process of selection, (4) social and commercial outcomes, (5) reporting outcomes, and (6) government role. Third, it reveals that the scholarship in the field has been mostly exploratory. Only recently the field is engaging in confirmatory studies. The research methods have used existing databases or existing single or multiple case studies. Finally, the field has to delve deeper into concepts like selection process, stakeholder management, opportunity recognition, and performance reporting to move the field forward and generate applied knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Small Business and Entrepreneurship
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)153-181
Number of pages29
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Published online: 31. January 2019


  • Impact investing
  • Research agenda
  • Social finance
  • Social entrepreneurship

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