Assessing mission drift at venture capital impact investors

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Business Ethics, 2017, 26 (3), pp. 257 - 270
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© 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd In this article, we consider a recent trend whereby private equity available from venture capital (VC) firms is being deployed toward mission-driven initiatives in the form of impact investing. Acting as hybrid organizations, these impact investors aim to achieve financial results while also targeting companies and funds to achieve social impact. However, potential mission drift in these VCs, which we define as a decoupling between the investments made (means) and intended aims (ends), might become detrimental to the simultaneous financial and social goals of such firms. Based on a content analysis of mission statements, we assess mission drift and the hybridization level of VC impact investors by examining their missions (ends/goals) and their investment practices (means) through the criteria of social and financial logic. After examining eight impact-oriented VC investors and their investments in 164 companies, we find mission drift manifest as a disparity between the means and ends in half of the VC impact investors in our sample. We discuss these findings and make suggestions for further studies.
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