There is a lot of work being done by academics on B Corp research papers, i.e., research related to B Corporations.
The Challenge And Potential Benefit Of B Corp Research
One of the challenges of such research is the fact that research cuts across disciplinary boundaries. (To be fair this is also a strength — it makes it interesting as you see different ways that researchers do their work). When looking at B Corp research you have to be willing to read a wide variety of different research that comes from perspectives you won’t normally see. It is quite possible to think, “that is strange”, or even “that is obvious”, especially when looking at research outside your home discipline. Still, the different research is worth a read as it helps you understand the wider business context as well as gives you ideas that you might not have thought of coming from marketing, management, sustainability, or whatever.
If academics need another reason beyond the intellectual challenge and contributing to developing new ways of looking at business that should help a broader range of stakeholders it is possible that the topic could become trendy. (Many academics love trendy topics but, obviously, all pretend they don’t because they are too high-minded.) Interest in B Corp is rising. As is the associated legal status in many US states of the benefit corporation. A quick look at Google Trends can show a steady increase in interest since 2010.
Some B Corp Research Papers
Below are some summaries of B Corp research papers. While there are some excellent papers in there the choice of papers I discussed is somewhat random. There are great papers I haven’t gotten round to discussing but this is a good start I hope.
“Explaining the Location of Mission-Driven Businesses: An Examination of B-Corps”,
Leila Hickman, John Byrd and Kent Hickman (2014), Published in The Journal of Corporate Citizenship, 55, 13-25, see here for the paper.
“Standing out and fitting in: Charting the emergence of Certified B Corporations by industry and region.“ Ke Cao, Joel Gehman, and Matthew G. Grimes. (2017) Published in Hybrid ventures. Emerald Publishing Limited, see here for paper.
“Hidden badge of honor: How contextual distinctiveness affects category promotion among certified B corporations.” Joel Gehman and Matthew Grimes (2017), Published in Academy of Management Journal 60(6) pages 2294-2320, see here for the paper.
“Making corporations responsible: The parallel tracks of the B Corp movement and the business and human rights movement.” Joanne Bauer, and Elizabeth Umlas (2017), Published in Business and Society Review 122(3), pages 285-325, see here for the paper.
“Certified Benefit Corporations as a new way to make sustainable business: The Italian example.” Patrizia Gazzola, Daniele Grechi, Paola Ossola, and Enrica Pavione. (2019), Published in Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management 26(6), pages 1435-1445, see here for the paper.
“The Impact Of B Lab Certification On Firm Growth”, Simon C. Parker, Edward N. Gamble, Peter W. Moroz, And Oana Branzei (2019), Published in Academy of Management Discoveries, 5(1), 57-77, see here for the paper.
“Certified corporate social responsibility? The current state of certified and decertified B Corps.” Yeuseung Kim (2021), Published in Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management 28(6), pages 1760-1768, see here for the paper.
“Good Corp, Bad Corp, and the Rise of B Corps: How Market Incumbents’ Diverse Responses Reinvigorate Challengers.” Suntae Kim and Todd Schifeling, (2022), Published in Administrative Science Quarterly, 67 (3), see here for the paper.
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