Olli Tiikkainen

Master of Social Sciences, Doctoral Researcher

Photo: Jussi Virkkumaa

‘I intend to spend my residency writing the introduction and conclusion for my doctoral dissertation, which is titled “Impact governance: On the socio-technical aspects of governance in Finnish impact investing and impact bonds”. The subject of my dissertation is impact investing, which is an approach to investing that aims to bring about not just financial returns but also measurable social or ecological impacts.

I find the subject both interesting in itself and societally relevant. However, what particularly fascinates me as a researcher is moving away from the specifics towards wider phenomena. The articles that make up my dissertation explore, for example, the relationship between revenue-based financing agreements that are derived from the logic of impact investing and the pursuit of sustainability transitions, as well as how and why impact investing was introduced to Finland in the 2010s. There are, however, also broader issues underlying these themes. How, to what extent and on what criteria can and should social and ecological impacts be measured? What are the potential consequences of weaving private investors and businesses more and more tightly into the fabric of the public sector and the welfare state? Does pursuing sustainability transitions have to mean sacrifices in other areas of social policy?

What I am hoping to achieve at the Saari Residence is to find peace and the time to delve into these questions in particular. The process of writing my dissertation has taken me down some unexpected paths, which I feel is necessary and which I also enjoy. At some point, however, I probably should – and in fact have to in order to finish my dissertation – start to write down my thoughts and get myself a bit more grounded again.’

I am a doctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki. My doctoral dissertation examines impact investing, combining elements of scientific research, economic sociology, sustainability science, sociology of valuation and social theory. My articles have been published in a number of scientific journals, including Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, Tiede & Edistys (“Science & Progress”) and Alue ja Ympäristö (“Region and Environment”). In addition to putting the final touches to my dissertation, I am hoping to use my time at the Saari Residence running and listening to what the birds have to tell me.