Associate Professor, Managerial Accounting and Control, General Management & Sustainability
J.J. Wettlaufer Faculty Fellowship
- Faculty >
Richard Ivey Building 3337
- Responsible Investment
- Non-Financial Performance Measurement Systems
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I am an Associate Professor (with tenure) belonging to the ‘Sustainability,’ ‘Managerial Accounting and Control,’ and ‘General Management’ groups at the Ivey Business School – a cross-disciplinary appointment that reflects my research and teaching. I ambition to push the boundaries of knowledge and practice by investigating how fashioning new devices, and collective actions can help transform financial markets towards sustainability. Over the years, I have studied the emergence of responsible investing, impact assessment, integrated reporting, and alternative currencies. My work in this area has won me several academic, teaching, and professional prizes.
I founded and have led the Sustainable Finance Lab at the Centre for Building Sustainable Value. I am currently working on an extensive research program on conservation finance, aiming to channel capital towards protecting ecosystems, notably through conservation impact bonds. As an ethnographer, I enjoy doing field research and sharing my experience with students and practitioners. I published my work at the Oxford University Press, Chains of Finance: How Investment Management is Shaped, and in major academic journals across various disciplines.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, I initiated and led an interdisciplinary, multimedia, and multilingual project, Breaking Boundaries, to offer a lasting record of collective and individual experiences during the lockdown and its aftermath. This book contributes to establishing the accounting discipline’s role in recording critical moments in our global history.
- HBA2: Corporations&Society – Sustainable Finance
- HBA2: Assessing the Broader Impact of Business
- MBA: Sustainable Finance – Building the Business of the 21st Century
- PhD, ESSEC Business School & University Paris Ouest Nanterre la Defense
- MBA & MSc in Management, ESSEC Business School
- MPhil in Organizational Theory, University Paris Ouest Nanterre la Defense
Recent Refereed Articles
Arjalies, D-L., 2023, "Prison break from financialization: The case of the PRI Reporting and Assessment Framework", Accounting Auditing & Accountability Journal, March 36(2): 561 - 590. Abstract: Purpose This article seeks to unravel the mechanisms through which financial actors agreed upon a sustainability accounting standard without financializing social and environmental issues, i.e., assigning a monetary value to sustainability. Design/Methodology/Approach The article examines the Reporting and Assessment Framework created by the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (UN-PRI), the leading reporting sustainability framework in the asset management industry. It relies on a longitudinal case study that draws upon interviews, participant observation, and archival data. Findings The article demonstrates that the conception of the framework was a funnelling process of sustainability valuation comprising two co-constituted mechanisms: a process of valorization – judging what is deemed of value – and a process of evaluation – agreeing on how to assess value. This valuation process unfolded by creating the framework, thanks to two enabling conditions: the creation of non-prescriptive evaluative criteria that avoided financialization and the valuation support of an enabling organization. Originality/Value The article helps understand how an industry can encompass the diversity of motives and practices associated with the adoption of sustainability by its economic actors while suggesting a common framework to report on and assess those practices. It uncovers alternatives to the financialization process of sustainability accounting standards. The article also offers insights into the advantages and inconveniences of such a framework. The article enriches the literature in the sociology of valuation, financialization, and sustainability accounting.
Arjalies, D-L.; Gibassier, D., 2023, "Can financialization save nature? The case of endangered species", Contemporary Accounting Research, March 40(1): 488 - 525. Abstract: The current biodiversity loss is dramatic. Over the past 50 years, more than 68% of the mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fish on earth have disappeared, putting the planet's survival and its inhabitants – including human beings – at risk (WWF, 2020). Financialization, or the transformation of nature into financial assets, is increasingly proposed as a solution to the biodiversity crisis. Proponents of financialization believe that assigning a monetary value to nature will incentivize human beings to protect habitats and their species. This article offers a four-mechanism model of nature’s financialization, explaining why it is virtually impossible to financialize nature. We collected data through a unique two-stage data collection process, including a single case study and additional interviews with conservationists and conservation finance specialists. We analyzed the development of a calculative device, the “Index,” designed to assess the impact of conservation efforts on the survival of endangered species. Conservationists hoped to use the Index to calculate the financial return of a conservation impact bond (CIB), a financial instrument designed to finance conservation projects. However, they did not achieve their goal. We discuss the implications for the financialization and conservation literature and the role of accounting therein. We notably question previous accounts of financialization, including the need for financial numbers or financial actors. We ultimately show that a financialization project can transform practices towards financialization, even if the financialization process is not complete.
Link(s) to publication:
Arjalies, D-L.; Chollet, P.; Crifo, P.; Mottis, N., 2023, "The Motivations and Practices of Impact Assessment in Socially Responsible Investing: The French Case and its Implications for the Accounting and Impact Investing Communities", Social and Environmental Accountability Journal, February 43(1): 1 - 29. Abstract: This research note elaborates on the impact assessment practices of the French Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) industry. The research was conducted by the Scientific Committee of the French public SRI label based on interviews, participative observation, a survey, and documentary evidence. SRI is usually distinguished from impact investing in terms of investors’ different intentions (contributing to sustainable development in a financially savvy way for SRI vs. demonstrating a societal impact for impact investing). We show that, beyond this distinction, the meanings and motivations behind impact assessment in the SRI community are broadly different from impact assessment practices in impact investing, creating a distance between the two communities. In fact, little is known about impact assessment practices in SRI, despite the market power of this asset class. We address this shortcoming by investigating 1) who is interested in impact assessment in the SRI industry, 2) why SRI investors want impact assessment, and 3) what impact assessment looks like in the SRI industry. We develop this analysis to suggest areas of concern and opportunities for the SRI, impact investing, and accounting communities. SRI investors’ recent appropriation of impact assessment indicates that the three communities’ interests and success will increasingly be linked to one another. The topic therefore warrants investigation.
Link(s) to publication:
- Yu, H.; Bansal, P.; Arjalies, D-L., 2023, "International Business is Contributing to the Environmental Crisis", Journal of International Business Studies
Banerjee, B.; Arjalies, D-L., 2021, "Celebrating the end of enlightenment: Organization theory in the age of the Anthropocene and Gaia (and why neither is the solution to our ecological crisis)", Organization Theory, October 2(4): 1 - 24. Abstract: This article aims to change the terms of the conversation about the ecological crisis. We argue that the human-nature dualism, a product of Enlightenment thought and primarily responsible for the ecological crisis, cannot be the basis for any meaningful solutions. We show how more recent Western imaginaries like the Anthropocene and Gaia proposed to overcome the separation of nature from culture are also based on exclusions that reflect Enlightenment rationality and legacies of colonialism. In sharp contrast, we show that Indigenous philosophies that preceded the Enlightenment by thousands of years have developed systems of knowledge based on a relational ontology that reflects profound connections between humans and nature. We demonstrate that such forms of knowledge have been systematically subjugated by Western scholarship based on arguments inspired by Enlightenment ideals of rationality and empiricism. A decolonial imagination will be able to generate new insights into understanding and addressing the ecological crisis. We therefore call for organization and management scholars to challenge the anthropomorphic biases and the economism that dominates our field through a respectful engagement with Indigenous worldviews.
Link(s) to publication:
Friedland, R.; Arjalies, D-L., 2021, "Putting Things in Place – Institutional Objects and Institutional Logics", Research in the Sociology of Organizations, January 71: 45 - 86. Abstract: This paper explores the role of institutional objects in the constitution of institutional logics. Institutional objects depend for their objectivity on the goods produced through those objects, such as economic models, passports or sacred texts. We theorize institutional logics as grammars of valuation that institutionalize goods through institutional objects. We identify four value moments through which goods are objectified: institution, the instituting of a good, a belief and an imagination of its objective goodness; production, how the good is produced, what practices are productive of the good; evaluation, how good is the good, the practices and objects through which worth in terms of that good is determined, and territorialization, the domain of reference of the good, to what objects and practices a good can and does refer in its instantiations. We assess the adequacy of our model through an institutional object based on the good of “market value” - i.e. an options pricing model. We discuss the implications of these findings for institutional logical theory and the sociology of valuation.
Link(s) to publication:
Arjalies, D-L., 2020, "What trees taught me about Covid-19: On relational accounting and other magic", Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal Abstract: While the world was on lock down, human beings started craving for green spaces. As they walked amidst the trees, trees began to talk to them. The surprising truth then emerged: There were actually secrets to be shared by the forest. This essay reflects on the teachings offered by nature(s) during the pandemic. Based on a personal encounter with a river, it caresses the relationships that have connected humans to non-humans over time and that have led to make this confinement both a unique and universal experience. It suggests embracing relational accounting, the expression of our relationships with each other and our ecosystems, as a way to collectively celebrate life and mourn death, thus honoring the generations that came before us and welcoming those who will we come after us. In doing so, the essay hopes to contribute to the field of accounting by offering an instantiation of what a poetic and Indigenous account of our world could look like.
Link(s) to publication:
Arjalies, D-L.; Durand, R., 2019, "Product Categories as Judgment Devices: The Moral Awakening of the Investment Industry", Organization Science, September 30(5): 885 - 911. Abstract: Product categories are more than classification devices that organize markets; when reflecting market actors' purposes, they are also judgment devices. Taking stock of the literature on product categories and drawing on the distinction between the faculties of knowing and judging, we elaborate a framework that accounts for how and why market actors include or exclude normative attributes in a product category definition. Based on a field study of the development of Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) funds in France, we describe the phases and conditions of a judgment framework for category definition, for both established and nascent categories. We discuss implications for research on product categories and the workings of markets more broadly.
Link(s) to publication:
Gibassier, D.; Rodrigue, M.; Arjalies, D-L., 2018, "'Integrated Reporting Is Like God: No One Has Met Him, but Everybody Talks About Him.' The Power of Myths in the Adoption of Management Innovations", Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, July 31(5): 1349 - 1380. Abstract: Purpose: This paper analyzes the process through which an IIRC (International Integrated Reporting Council) pilot company adopted "integrated reporting" (IR), a management innovation that merges financial and non-financial reporting. brbr Designmethodologyapproach: We use a seven-year longitudinal ethnographic study based on semi-structured interviews, observations, and documentary evidence to analyze this multinational company's IR adoption process from its decision to become an IIRC pilot organization to the publication of its first integrated report. brbr Findings: We demonstrate that the company envisioned IR as a "rational myth" (Hatchuel, 1998 Hatchuel and Weil, 1992). This conceptualization acted as a springboard for IR adoption, with the mythical dimension residing in the promise that IR had the potential to portray global performance in light of the company's own foundational myth. The company challenged the vision of IR suggested by the IIRC to stay true to its conceptualization of IR and eventually chose to implement its own version of an integrated report. brbr Originalityvalue: We enrich previous research on integrated reporting and management innovations by showing how important it is for organizations to acknowledge the mythical dimension of the management innovations they pursue to support their adoption processes. Based on these findings, we argue that myths can play a productive role in transforming business (reporting) practices. We also identify some transition conditions that make this transformation possible and discuss the implications of these results for the future of IR, sustainability and accounting more broadly.
Link(s) to publication:
Arjalies, D-L.; Bansal, P., 2018, "Beyond numbers: How investment managers accommodate societal issues in financial decisions", Organization Studies, June 39(5-6): 695 - 725. Abstract: Investment managers use financial numbers to assess the quality of their portfolios, which requires them to estimate the market value of their assetsi.e., the priced exchange for which such assets could be traded. Prior research has shown that investment managers are likely to disregard information that does not easily integrate into such analysis, such as environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria. We undertook a three-year ethnography of an asset management company to better understand how investment managers respond to ESG criteria. We found that fixed-income investment managers attempted to include ESG criteria in their financial models by financializing the data, so that the information commensurated with their existing models. Equity investment managers, on the other hand, did not financialize ESG issues, but introduced the use of visuals, specifically emojis, to incarnate ESG issues, so that the equity managers could juxtapose ESG criteria with financial criteria. In doing so, they created a sense of dissonance between financial numbers and the visuals, which fostered creative friction. The equity managers were thus able to analyze the ESG criteria not only for their financial insights but also to retain some of the social and environmental information that could not be financialized. We discuss the implications of these findings for the research on financialization and calculative devices.
Link(s) to publication:
Friedland, R.; Arjalies, D-L., 2017, "The Passion of Luc Boltanski: The Destiny of Love, Violence and Institution", Research in the Sociology of Organizations, June 52: 301 - 347. Abstract: On Justification: Economies of Worth (Boltanski & Thévenot, 19912006) was a synthetic and comprehensive parsing of common goods, goods that could and had to be justified in public. In response to Bourdieu’s critical sociology, they rather provided a robust and disciplined sociology of critique, the situated requirements of justification. They refused power and violence as integral to the operability of justification. They emphasized the ways in which conventions of worth afforded coordination, not their constitution of or by domination. They refused to make either capitalism, or the state, into primary motors of social order. Indeed, they refused social sphere, structure, or group as the ground of the good. They emphasized the cognitive capacities of agents. There was no passion, no desire, no bodily affect in these justified worlds. There wasn’t even any account of production of value, of children, or of money. And while they recognized the metaphysical aspect of the good and even used Christianity as a template for one of their cités, they rigorously excluded religion. The theory was designed to analyze moments of controversy, not quiescence or quietude. In his subsequent work, Boltanski aimed to address these absences. In this essay, we examine how Boltanski sought to restore love, violence, religion, production, and institution across five texts: Love and Justice as Competences (19902012), The New Spirit of Capitalism, co-authored with Eve Chiapello (19992007), The Foetal Condition: A Sociology of Engendering and Abortion (20042013), On Critique: A Sociology of Emancipation (20092011), and La Collection, Une Forme Neuve du Capitalisme La Mise en Valeur Economique du Passé et ses Effets (2014) co-authored with Arnaud Esquerre.
Link(s) to publication:
Arjalies, D-L., 2014, "Challengers from within Economic Institutions: A Second-Class Social movement? A Response to Déjean, Giamporcaro, Gond, Leca and Penalva-Icher’s Comment on French SRI", Journal of Business Ethics, August 123(2): 257 - 262. Abstract: In a recent comment made about my paper A Social Movement Perspective on Finance: How Socially Responsible Invetsment Mattered (J Bus Ethics 92:5778, 2010), published in this journal, Déjean, Giamporcaro, Gond, Leca and Penalva-Icher (J Bus Ethics 112: 205-212, 2013) strongly criticize the social movement perspective adopted on French SRI. They both contest the empirical analysis of the movement and the possibility for insiders to trigger institutional change towards sustainability. This answer aims to address the different concerns raised throughout their comment and illuminate the differences between both approaches. It first explains why SRI in France can be considered as a social movement, despite not being protest-oriented. It then reflects on the dangers of systematically associating societal change with radical activism. It concludes by elaborating on the importance of acknowledging the potential contribution of reformist movements from within the economic institutions to the enhancement of the social good.
Link(s) to publication:
Arjalies, D-L.; Mundy, J., 2013, "The Use of Management Control Systems to Formulate and Implement CSR Strategy: A Levers of Control Perspective", Management Accounting Research, December 24(4): 284 - 300. Abstract: Little is known about the role of management control systems (MCS) in managing the strategic processes that underpin Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). To enhance our understanding of this phenomenon, this study employs Simons’ (1995) levers of control framework to explore how organizations leverage MCS in different ways in order to drive strategic renewal and trigger organizational change while simultaneously supporting society’s broader sustainability agenda. Drawing on data gathered from France’s largest listed companies members of the CAC 40 we provide insights into the structures and processes that companies employ to design, implement and monitor their CSR strategy. In doing so, we provide evidence of the way that organisations seek to attain their CSR objectives, and of the relationship between the management of CSR and other business processes. Of particular interest is the role of the levers of control in enabling managers to identify and manage threats and opportunities associated with CSR strategy, thus forming risk management processes that support organisations in their attainment of strategic objectives. Furthermore, the study provides evidence suggesting the use of MCS has the potential to contribute to society’s broader sustainability agenda through processes that enable innovation, communication, reporting, and the identification of threats and opportunities.
Link(s) to publication:
Arjalies, D-L.; Hobeika, S.; Ponssard, J. P.; Poret, S., 2013, "Le rôle de la labellisation dans la construction d’un marché: Le cas de l’ISR en France, [The role of labellisation in the design of a market: The case of SRI in France", Revue Francaise de Gestion, November 39(236): 93 - 107. Abstract: French Abstract: L’Investissement Socialement Responsable (ISR) en France reste peu développé pour les investisseurs particuliers, en dépit d’une croissance forte des fonds ISR et du lancement de labels à leur intention. L’objectif de cet article est de mieux comprendre le rôle limité des labels. Notre analyse s’appuie sur l’interaction entre trois éléments: label et asymétrie d’information, choix des attributs informationnels des labels et objectifs des organismes porteurs de labellisation, concurrence induite entre labels. Deux facteurs expliquent l’impact limité des labels. D’une part, les attributs informationnels mis en évidence par les labels reflètent plus le point de vue des sociétés de gestion que celui des investisseurs particuliers. D’autre part, la distribution de l’ISR auprès des particuliers passe majoritairement par les réseaux des banques et assurances, réseaux pour lesquels il ne constitue pas un véritable axe de différenciation concurrentielle. English Abstract: The attractiveness of SRI (Socially Responsible Investment) for retail investors in France has remained limited in spite of the launch of labeling schemes and a substantial growth of SRI funds. The article analyzes why the labeling impact has been limited. Our framework is based on the interaction of three elements: labels and information asymmetry, the labeling organizations and the selection of information attributes, the induced competition between labels. Two main factors explain the limited impact of labels. First, the information attributes disclosed by the labels reflect the viewpoint of asset managers rather than the one of retail investors. Second, the distribution of SRI by banking and insurance networks is not a factor of competitive advantage.
Link(s) to publication:
- Arjalies, D-L., 2013, "Institutional change in the making – the case of socially responsible investment", Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change, March 9(1): 113 - 122.
Honours & Awards
- 2020 Best paper award in the category "Covid-19," XX USP International Conference in Accounting for "What trees taught me about Covid-19: On relational accounting and other magic," Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Forthcoming."
- 2019 "Highly Commended" in the 2018 Mary Parker Follett Award competition (3 best papers published in the journal for the year) for "Integrated reporting, it's like God, no, one met him but everybody talks about him": The power of myths in the adoption of management innovations, Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, 31, 5: 1349-1380 (with D. Gibassier and M. Rodrigue)
- 2018 Best Paper Award, Established Scholar Category, CSEAR North America, for “Can Accounting Save Nature(s)? The Case of Endangered Species” (with D. Gibassier)
- 2018 Most cited paper in Management Accounting Research since 2013 (extract from Scopus) for "The use of management control systems to formulate and implement CSR strategy: A levers of control perspective, Management Accounting Research, 24(4): 284-300" (with J. Mundy)
- 2017 Best International Paper in Social Issues in Management, Academy of Management, nominated for the Carolyn Dexter Award (all academy award), for “Product Categories as Judgment Devices: The Moral Awakening of the Investment Industry”
- 2016-now: Appointed by the French Ministry for Finance and Economy to the Scientific Committee of the “Socially Responsible Investment” (SRI) Label.
- 2016-now: Board Member “Independent Expert” of the French Social Investment Forum.
- 2012-now: Member and President of the jury of the academic prize of the FIR-PRI - Principles of Responsible Investment (UNEP Finance Initiative).
- 2014 nominated for the Syntec management consulting best article award in the category “Management / Human Resources / Organization” for ‘Arjaliès, D-L., & Mundy J. (2013), The Use of Management Control Systems to Formulate and Implement CSR Strategy: A Levers of Control Perspective, Management Accounting Research, 24(4): 284-300’.
- 2012 nominated for the Syntec management consulting best article award in the category “Management / Human Resources / Organization” for ‘Arjaliès, D-L., Goubet C. & Ponssard, J-P. (2011). Approches stratégiques des émissions CO2: Les cas de l’industrie cimentière et de l’industrie chimique, Revue Française de Gestion, 2011, 6(215): 123-146’. Translated in English in June 2013
- 2011 Best Thesis Award European FIR-PRI (French Socially Responsible Investment Forum & Principles for Responsible Investment) €5,000
- 2011 Highly Commendable dissertation in the EFMD Emerald 2011 Outstanding Doctoral Research Awards in the Interdisciplinary Accounting Research (category sponsored by the Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal).
- 2011 Second prize in the European EDAMBA (European Doctoral Programmes Association in Management and Business Administration) Thesis Competition (€1,500). Others
- 2006-2009 - RI Analyst, Macif Gestion (Asset Management Company), France.
- 2004-2005 - Social Economy Operations Manager, Macif (Private Mutual Insurance), France.
- 2003 - Deputy Project Manager, Companieros (Ethical Educational Programs), France.