Project Description

The purpose of this study is to analyze the intersection of research on impact investing and its closely related financial vehicles. Design/methodology/approach
The paper explores 196 articles collected from Scopus and Web of Science using bibliometric and content analysis methodologies.
Despite a growing academic interest in impact investing, scholars generally investigate impact investing as a social phenomenon, using the specific financial mechanism of social impact bonds. This perspective potentially deflates the complex nature of impact investing, which actually combines both social and financial targets and uses a plurality of financial vehicles to reach its goals.
Practical implications
The emerging themes identified will provide both academics and practitioners additional tools to further the debate on impact investing and the understanding of its potential and limits according to the different financial forms it takes. This review should pave the way for a discussion about the boundaries of the social impact sector itself.
Social implications

Despite the strong international commitment toward impact investing, tensions still exist. A comprehensive overview on the relevant aspects not yet thoroughly investigated will foster the growth of impact investments.
To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first holistic overview of impact investing, that jointly examines both literature on impact investing and literature on the correlated financial products used in the industry. The result is a comprehensive report of what is known about impact investing in its different financial forms, opening up new pathways for future studies.