Exploring the Impact Investment Space in Brazil: A Multiple Case Study of Impact Investors’ Identities, Institutional Work and Roles

Martje Meinert

Student thesis: Master thesis


Purpose: Impact investing has the potential to address Brazil’s social challenges by supporting market-based, scalable and measurable solutions that create social and environmental impact while generating positive financial returns. Impact investing has however not been well theorized. This research aims investigate impact investing in Brazil and to present a model that explains the relation between actors’ identities, their institutional work and their role. Design/methodology/approach: This study is an explanatory multiple-case study of available impact investors in Brazil. Grounded in a pragmatist view, it takes a mainly inductive approach. It is a mixed method study using mainly interview method and archival research. Findings: This paper empirically suggests that there is a causal relation between impact investors’ identity, their institutional work, their role within the market, as well as the types of deals they pursue. The actors thereby take on specific roles, which on the one hand are based on their work, and on the other hand also explain the ticket size of their deals. Research limitations: The limitations are related to the intrinsic properties of the methods employed (in-depth interviews), and the limited geographical area (Brazil). While the sample is heterogeneous in terms of company size and maturity, the overall sample size is rather small. Theoretical contribution and practical implications: This study extends existing impact investing and institutional literature by uncovering that the causal relation between identities, work and roles. These newly discovered theoretical contributions suggest that roles can be dynamic. Additionally, this research offers insights on current opportunities and challenges in the impact investing space in Brazil. Originality/Value: Impact investing is a rather new form of investing that is claimed to potentially disrupt the investing space, as it combines financial returns with social, environmental and economic impact. Though impact investing holds great potential, it has only scarcely been investigated in academia. The findings of this paper present a first step in understanding the investors’ roles based on their identity and institutional work.

EducationsMSocSc in Management of Creative Business Processes , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages87
SupervisorsKristjan Jespersen