Hidden Badge of Honor: How Contextual Distinctiveness Affects Category Promotion among Certified B Corporations

59 Pages Posted: 26 Oct 2016

See all articles by Joel Gehman

Joel Gehman

George Washington University - Department of Strategic Management & Public Policy

Matthew Grimes

University of Cambridge - Cambridge Judge Business School

Date Written: October 24, 2016

Abstract

Why would an organization pursue membership in an organizational category, yet forego opportunities to subsequently promote that membership? Drawing on prior research, we develop a theoretical model that distinguishes between basic and subordinate categories and highlights how organizations may differ in their promotion of the same subordinate category. We hypothesize that a subordinate category’s contextual distinctiveness within different basic categories increases promotion, and that these effects are amplified in relatively larger subordinate category peer groups. To test our hypotheses, we developed a proprietary web-based software tool-set and gathered data regarding B Corporations’ web-based promotion of their certification. We supplemented our statistical analysis with interviews of Certified B Corporation entrepreneurs and executives. Our findings challenge prior assumptions about the causes of promotional forbearance, while extending our understanding of category distinctiveness within contexts as well as sources of intra-category variation.

Keywords: Category Promotion, Certification, Values Practices, CULTR, Contextual Distinctiveness

JEL Classification: L31, L26, O35

Suggested Citation

Gehman, Joel and Grimes, Matthew, Hidden Badge of Honor: How Contextual Distinctiveness Affects Category Promotion among Certified B Corporations (October 24, 2016). Academy of Management Journal, Forthcoming, Kelley School of Business Research Paper No. 16-77, University of Alberta School of Business Research Paper No. 2016-910, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2858437

Joel Gehman (Contact Author)

George Washington University - Department of Strategic Management & Public Policy ( email )

Washington, DC 20052
United States

Matthew Grimes

University of Cambridge - Cambridge Judge Business School ( email )

Trumpington St.
Cambridge, CB21AG
United Kingdom

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