2017 Responsible Research in Management Award

Today, Matthew Grimes and I received notification that our forthcoming Academy of Management Journal article — Hidden Badge of Honor: How Contextual Distinctiveness Affects Category Promotion Among Certified B Corporations — was selected for the 2017 Responsible Research in Management Presidential Award.The award is co-sponsored by the Community for Responsible Research in Business and Management and the International Association for Chinese Management Research. A committee of three chairs and fifteen reviewers assessed these nominations, based on the seven principles of responsible research. The complete list of award winners is below.

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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.

2016 Ivey Sustainability Conference

Today, I gave an invited talk at the 2016 Ivey Sustainability Conference. This one-day event was organized by Diane-Laure Arjalies, Oana Branzei, and Tima Bansal (all from Ivey Business School). Other invited faculty included Fabrizio Ferraro (IESE Business School) and Donal Crilly (London Business School). Several students, post doctoral research fellows, and faculty from Ivey Business School also made presentations. In addition to participating in the closing plenary on “The Future of Research on Sustainability in Management,” I presented research I have been conducting with Matthew Grimes (Indiana University) on Certified B Corporations.

Below are the slides from my talk.

Hidden Badge of Honor

Today, our forthcoming Academy of Management Journal article — Hidden Badge of Honor: How Contextual Distinctiveness Affects Category Promotion Among Certified B Corporations — was published online.

Co-authored with Matthew Grimes (Indiana University), the research asks: 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 toolset, CULTR, and gathered data regarding B Corporations’ web-based promotion of their certification. We supplemented our statistical analysis with interviews of Certified B Corporation executives and entrepreneurs. 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.

2015 Peoples Choice Award

On May 15, my paper with Matthew Grimes — Category Promotion: How B Corporations Respond to the Competing Demands of Standing out and Fitting In — won the 2015 Peoples Choice Award from the Alliance for Research on Corporate Sustainability (ARCS). This year’s conference was hosted at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management from May 13-15, 2015.

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2015 Western Academy of Management Best Paper Nominees

Today, the 56th Western Academy of Management Annual Meeting released a draft of its conference program, including the Past Presidents Best Paper Nominees. My paper co-authored with Matthew Grimes — Category Promotion: How B Corporations Respond to the Competing Demands of Standing Out and Fitting In — is one of three nominees for the award. The winner will be announced Friday, March 13, 2015, at the Presidential Luncheon.

Sustainable Microbreweries

I was recently interviewed by Nikki Wiart for a story about “Sustainable Microbreweries.” Other interviewees include my University of Alberta colleague Matthew Grimes, and Neil Herbst, owner and founder of Alley Kat Brewing Company, Edmonton’s oldest microbrewery.

The segment covered a range of issues: the importance of distinctiveness and legitimacy, the liability of newness, and some of the policy considerations related to small and large businesses. Below is one quote from the interview:

A lot of small businesses [and] new startups face a similar set of challenges, which [are]: one, around distinctiveness. What is my point of difference? How do I compete in the marketplace? But then [two] also around legitimacy. So, how is it that my customers and other stakeholders are going to take me seriously and think that I am viable? … Whether you are a microbrewery or some other kind of business, those are the kinds of challenges you are facing.

The interview was broadcast on Terra Informa, a weekly environmental program produced by CJSR and syndicated to about 50 radio stations throughout Canada. The interview starts about 2 minutes into the program and runs about 10 minutes long.

In addition to Alley Kat Brewing Company (which was founded in 1994), two other microbreweries call the Edmonton area home: Amber’s Brewing Company (founded in 2007) and Yellowhead Brewery (founded in 2010). Of note, Yellowhead Brewery is located in the space formerly occupied by Maverick Brewing Company (which was founded in 2005 and went out of business in 2007). The Alberta Small Brewers Association counts 11 members throughout the province.