Social Shareholder Engagement: The Dynamics of Voice and Exit

Jennifer Goodman, Céline Louche, Katinka C. van Cranenburgh, Daniel Arenas

Research output: Indexed journal article Articlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Investors concerned about the social and environmental impact of the companies they invest in are increasingly choosing to use voice over exit as a strategy. This article addresses the question of how and why the voice and exit options (Hirschman 1970) are used in social shareholder engagement (SSE) by religious organisations. Using an inductive case study approach, we examine seven engagements by three religious organisations considered to be at the forefront of SSE. We analyse the full engagement process rather than focusing on particular tools or on outcomes. We map the key stages of the engagement processes and the influences on the decisions made at each stage to develop a model of the dynamics of voice and exit in SSE. This study finds that religious organisations divest for political rather than economic motives using exit as a form of voice. The silent exit option is not used by religious organisations in SSE, exit is not always the consequence of unsatisfactory voice outcomes, and voice can continue after exit. We discuss the implications of these dynamics and influences on decisions for further research in engagement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-210
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Engagement process
  • Religious organisations
  • Responsible investment
  • Social shareholder engagement
  • Voice and exit


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