While there are broader socio-political, psychological, and structural factors that influence investment decisions (see Harris et al., 2016), in line with the critical approach, this study provides an empirical insight into the notion that financialization, specifically the tendency to prioritise economic over environmental objectives, has a strong bearing on how managers view investment trade-off decisions in relation to sustainability issues. The study empirically investigates this notion by examining the investment trade–off preferences of Australian managers in relation to three decision attributes – economic outcomes (i.e. financial returns), environmental impact (i.e. carbon emissions) and stakeholder pressure to consider environmental issues. We use the discrete choice experimental method to quantify the trade-offs between the abovementioned three attributes. In addition, we also investigate the potential effect of three contingency factors on individual’s preferences. Specifically, at the organisational level, we explore the effects of financial and environmental rewards and at the individual level, we explore the effect of environmental consciousness. In line with the financialization hypotheses our results indicate that managers prioritise financial returns over carbon emissions and stakeholder pressures with the preference for financial returns found to be positively associated with rewards for financial performance. However, in line with the pragmatic approach and despite the overall dominance of financial returns, there is evidence that manager’s focus on financial returns can be influenced, with the preference for financial returns negatively associated with rewards for environmental performance and environmental consciousness. In addition, while stakeholder pressure was not found to be associated with any of the three contingency factors and, manager’s emphasis on carbon emissions was not associated with financial rewards, manager’s emphasis on carbon emissions was found to be positively associated with both rewards for environmental performance and environmental consciousness. Therefore, our findings suggest that corporate management have an important role to play, both in respect to the design of performance rewards systems and the recruitment of environmentally conscious managers, in order to promote the sustainability agenda.
|Journal||The British Accounting Review|
|Publication status||E-pub ahead of print - 11 Nov 2020|