A study of the role of actors in reframing socially responsible investments as it was adopted by mainstream investors
Afshin Mehrpouya


Widespread adoption and “mainstreaming” of practices is an area widely researched in organization studies. Social movements are one of the key forces that push for deinstitutionalization of incumbents’ practices and reinstitutionalization of new practices. This study focuses on how social movement actors engage in meaning making to reconcile the original movement frame with the institutional demands of incumbent organizations.  In addition, this study attempts to provide a better understanding of how social movement actors cope with the emerging conflicts between their values and the “pragmatic” framing needs of the movement to appeal to incumbents.

“Socially responsible investments” is a movement which dates back to a few centuries ago. During the last two decades, the socially responsible investments succeeded in moving from a small niche to widespread adoption of its practices by the mainstream investment community. In the process of this widespread adoption, the movement’s frames have changed significantly to adapt to the changing institutional forces the mainstream actors are exposed to. The types of strategic framing during mainstreaming are conceptualized as: hybridization of logics with the mainstream (financialization of SRI), move from negative to positive incentives and increased use of participatory frames and tactics instead of using external pressure.