Weaving together the normative and regulative roles of government: How the norwegian sovereign wealth fund's responsible conduct is shaping firms' cross-border investments

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Abstract

Based on institutional theory, I extend research on the regulative role of national government in society and suggest that government exerts important influences on firms' actions through the diffusion of norms. I suggest that the Norwegian government, by instituting an ethical council that publicly censors and certifies the cross-border investments of the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund Government Pension Fund Global, contributes to the professionalization of responsible investment principles and thus plays a normative role in shaping firms' investments. Employing a quasi-natural experiment, I find that focal Norwegian firms are more likely to make responsible cross-border investments following the formation of the Council on Ethics in 2004 and its associated censorship announcements. Further, I find that the normative pressure for responsible investments is mediated by firms' imitation or overlap with the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund's investments. However, the mediated effect of normative pressure on responsible investments becomes weaker for government-owned firms. These findings highlight the importance of normative mechanisms through which government can influence firms' behavior, especially in contexts where regulatory authority may not hold. Moreover, these findings reveal the interplay among the normative, mimetic, and regulative pressures and the heterogeneity in the extent to which firms within the same country demonstrate institutional isomorphism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1662-1682
Number of pages21
JournalOrganization Science
Volume24
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2013

Keywords

  • Government
  • International investments
  • Norms
  • Professionalization
  • Social responsibility
  • Sovereign wealth funds

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