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Value similarity and overall performance: trust in responsible investment

Jean-François Bonnefon (Center for Research in Management, Toulouse School of Economics, Toulouse, France)
Marco Heimann (Magellan Research Center, IAE Lyon, Lyon, France)
Katia Lobre-Lebraty (Magellan Research Center, IAE Lyon, Lyon, France)

Society and Business Review

ISSN: 1746-5680

Article publication date: 10 July 2017




The purpose of this paper is to show how overall performance can help foster trust in financial institutions. While a climate of mistrust amongst investors and the general public toward financial institutions has developed since the recent turmoil in the financial markets, it is believed that mutual funds adopting the overall performance approach can help recover a climate of trust owing to the implied balance between economic, social and environmental performance. More specifically, overall performance promotes values that are similar to investors’ values and could be used by responsible investment funds if they want to contribute to the restoration of trust in investment funds.


This paper uses an innovative, experimental design to test the effect of value similarity on the trust that investors have in the investment fund. This effect cannot be studied in isolation, which is why it is compared with the effects of financial performance and ethical labeling on trust.


The authors find that funds with similar values are perceived as more trustworthy by investors. Consequently, overall performance should be added to fund managers' toolbox if they want to foster trust in their fund. The effect of financial performance on trust applies only when the investor has no other information regarding the fund. As for the ethical labeling of funds, it has no effect on trust.

Research limitations/implications

The findings encourage research that aims to develop a comprehensive approach of integrated overall performance focusing on financial and extra-financial values. Bonnet et al.’s (2016) fieldwork on socio-economic management and Naro and Travaillé©’s (2016) work on management controllers provide promising examples in this regard.

Practical implications

Investment funds can acquire an edge by communicating on overall performance and specific values of their target investors. Merely labeling funds as ethical is not sufficient to increase trust.

Social implications

Increasing similarity in values to investors and adopting the overall performance approach in investment funds will increase investors' trust. Trust contributes to social capital and allows societies to create flexible large-scale businesses needed to be competitive in a global environment.


Using an innovative experimental methodology, this paper shows that the underlying factor of overall performance on trust in investment funds is value similarity. It provides researchers and practitioners with insight about the underlying mechanisms of the effect of overall performance on trust.



Support from the ANR-Labex IAST is gratefully acknowledged.


Bonnefon, J.-F., Heimann, M. and Lobre-Lebraty, K. (2017), "Value similarity and overall performance: trust in responsible investment", Society and Business Review, Vol. 12 No. 2, pp. 200-215.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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