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Social Innovation Speaker Series: Matthew Grimes
Wed, March 31 @ 10:00 am - 11:00 am
“Harnessing the Hype: Converting the Cultural Momentum of Impact Investing into Lasting Social Change”
Reader in Organisational Theory & Information Systems
University of Cambridge
Co-Director of the Entrepreneurship Centre
Within public discourse, hype is often associated with rapidly growing interest and excitement in an idea, attracting attention and garnering resources. This compounding momentum is often driven by both a hope for change and a fear of missing out. Yet this occurs only up until a certain point or moment – when stakeholders eventually start asking if the respective idea is ‘worthy of the hype’. Although hype can be theoretically conceptualized as a cultural resource by which entrepreneurs might encourage greater stakeholder engagement, the concept also points to elevated stakeholder expectations, thereby exposing hype as a cultural liability for those entrepreneurs and presenting a significant management challenge in navigating this precarity. Drawing on an inductive, longitudinal, and comparative study of three new ventures within the much-hyped category of impact investing, we develop an emergent theory of hype management, whereby entrepreneurs elaborate institutional infrastructure and thus establish incremental social proof around the possibility for lasting social change. Our account suggests that hype, while critical to processes of social change, on its own, is insufficient for explaining sustained resource acquisition and the successful realization of lasting social change.