Banking as if Society Mattered: The Case of Triodos Bank
Katrin Dr. Käufer, January 2011
As intermediaries between borrowers and lenders, banks hold a unique position
in an economic system, and in society in general.
The role of financial institutions becomes apparent when governments intervene to save banks in crisis because their failure would put the economic system, and with that society, at risk. Socially responsible
and green banks operate on the assumption that this unique position
provides them with a leverage for addressing social and/or environmental
While the current public discussion focuses on how to regulate financial
institutions so that the negative externalities of their operation can
be reduced, this case study presents an example for a socially responsible
and green bank, Triodos Bank, based in the Netherlands, and explores
the potential role of banks in addressing societal challenges.
The case study is based on interviews with Triodos executives and co-‐workers
throughout the organization, with customers, on participant observation,
and on a review of the bank’s work and publications.
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