Title: From Discourse to Action: Multivocal Inscription in the Emergence of Impact Investing in Spain 

Speakers: Lisa Hehenberger

Date: Tuesday, 8 September 2020 

Time: 12:00-13:30

Room: A1112 and Zoom


Multivocality encourages enrollment of diverse types of actors into interstitial spaces to debate and discuss solutions to complex societal challenges. However, it is difficult to sustain engagement in this type of temporary spaces, which hinders collective efforts to address grand challenges in a systematic and durable manner. Our study of impact investing in Spain reveals the need for multivocal inscription – defined as the translation of multiple interests into material form – to enable field emergence. We confirm that discursive mechanisms are important to convene diverse actors and envision new solutions, but we also find that impact measurement as a calculative process is needed to generate clarity for actors on how to implement actions. We unpack three interconnected and reinforcing mechanisms that are components of the calculative process, allowing actors to move beyond temporary interstitial spaces to sustained action in emerging fields. By setting goals, demarcating accountabilities and evaluating outcomes, the calculative process allows actors in the emerging field to align around a common set of rules, positions and actions, thus shaping the contours of the emerging field. We contribute to the theory on field emergence, literature on impact investing, and explore the implications for practitioners and policymakers addressing grand challenges.