Standing Out and Fitting In: Charting the Emergence of Certified B Corporations by Industry and Region

Advances in Entrepreneurship, Firm Emergence and Growth, Vol. 19, Forthcoming

University of Alberta School of Business Research Paper No. 2017-904

Kelley School of Business Research Paper No. 17-32

55 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2017 Last revised: 5 Mar 2018

See all articles by Ke Cao

Ke Cao

Wilfrid Laurier University

Joel Gehman

George Washington University - Department of Strategic Management & Public Policy

Matthew Grimes

University of Cambridge - Cambridge Judge Business School

Date Written: April 14, 2017

Abstract

To fulfill their economic and social missions, it is imperative yet challenging for hybrid ventures to demonstrate legitimacy (fitting in) while simultaneously projecting distinctiveness (standing out). One important means for doing so is by adopting and promoting the recent B Corporation certification. Drawing on a comprehensive analysis of the emergence of this certification, we argue that when it comes to promoting their businesses, hybrid ventures should not adopt a one size fits all approach. Rather, their promotion strategies need to be adapted to their specific contexts. We theorize and develop a typology of certification promotion strategies for hybrid ventures based on the relative prevalence of other hybrid ventures in the same regions and industries. We close by articulating why the B Corp movement is a rich and underexplored context for scholarship on hybrid ventures, and highlight several promising future research directions.

Keywords: Social Entrepreneurship, Hybrid Organizations, Certifications, B Corporations, Legitimacy, Optimal Distinctiveness

JEL Classification: L31, L26, O35

Suggested Citation

Cao, Ke and Gehman, Joel and Grimes, Matthew, Standing Out and Fitting In: Charting the Emergence of Certified B Corporations by Industry and Region (April 14, 2017). Advances in Entrepreneurship, Firm Emergence and Growth, Vol. 19, Forthcoming , University of Alberta School of Business Research Paper No. 2017-904, Kelley School of Business Research Paper No. 17-32, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2953383

Ke Cao

Wilfrid Laurier University ( email )

64 University Ave W
Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3C7
Canada

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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