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The Sustainability Journey: An exploration into small and medium-sized enterprises' quest for legitimacy: the B Corp case
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Business Studies.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Business Studies.
2018 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

This qualitative study contributes to the research field on legitimacy theory and creating shared value (CSV) in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), regarding helping entrepreneurs and business owners better understand the journey of engaging with social and environmental issues. Recent years have seen a growing number of organisations engage in CSV, which builds on identifying societal needs and approaching these as business opportunities. A standard that purports to uphold these values and is comprised of for-profit companies committed to sustainability-related initiatives is the B Corp label. We consider B Corp certification and explore how sustainably oriented SMEs engage with their wider community in a way that fosters corporate credibility and legitimacy. 

Empirical data about five SMEs organisational narratives working with CSV, implementation of social and environmental activities, and effects of B Corp certification were collected through in-depth semi-structured interviews with company representatives and a range of secondary data materials. Analysing the data from these five interviewed companies established them to be engaging with the notion of CSV and regard addressing societal or environmental issues as the purpose of their business. Furthermore, findings suggested that values and beliefs incorporated by the SMEs supersede the generally adopted values in society, thereby representing a paradox with legitimacy theory. As a result, these businesses aim to close the perceived legitimacy gap by trying to raise awareness and engage the public with the appropriateness of their business, thereby slowly providing citizens with a more conscious mindset.  

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. , p. 39
Keywords [en]
legitimacy, B Corp certification, sustainable management, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), creating shared value (CSV), qualitative research, narrative writing
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-354778OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-354778DiVA, id: diva2:1222633
Subject / course
Business Studies
Educational program
Master Programme in Sustainable Management
Examiners
Available from: 2018-06-25 Created: 2018-06-21 Last updated: 2018-06-25Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
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More styles
Language
  • de-DE
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  • nn-NB
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  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
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