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.