Charting the Emergence of Certified B Corporations

An article I co-authored with Ke Cao (a Ph.D. student at the University of Alberta) and Matthew Grimes (Indiana University), was published as the lead chapter of Volume 19 in the Advances in Entrepreneurship, Firm Emergence and Growth series. Edited by Andrew C. Corbett (Babson University) and Jerome A. Katz (Saint Louis University), the theme of the volume is Hybrid Ventures.

Citation: Cao, K., Gehman, J. & Grimes, M.G. 2017. Standing Out and Fitting In: Charting the Emergence of Certified B Corporations by Industry and Region. In A.C. Corbett & J.A. Katz (Eds.), Advances in Entrepreneurship, Firm Emergence and Growth: Hybrid Ventures. 19: 1-38.

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 conclude by articulating why the B Corporation movement is a rich and underexplored context for scholarship on hybrid ventures, and highlight several promising future research directions.