Current Research

The paradox of social impact measurement.” With Haley Beer & Pablo Muñoz.                

Abstract

Social impact measurement is considered an essential mechanism for the reducing inequality, under the banner of what gets measured gets managed. Yet social entrepreneurs continue to face persistent tensions when adopting impact measurement as a way to describe and express social outcomes. Using interview data and participant observation from 70 social entrepreneurs in Chile, we examine how actors engage in social impact and social measurement tasks. Our findings suggest that the fundamental structure of impact and measurement tasks differ, leading to three sets of conflicting forces when trying to enact impact (and) measurement as a singular phenomenon: temporal, causal, and symbolic opposites. Combined, these three findings form the paradox of social impact measurement. When practice attempts to bring social impact and measurement constructs close together they bounce back and break apart, causing confusion and frustration for those signaling social outcomes. This paper highlights that the more we try to measure social impact, the less we know whether social impact has been or can be achieved. The findings and theorizing in this paper contributes to scholarship in three ways. 

 

Management controls for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde leadership in nonprofit organizations.” With Anne Christensen.

Abstract

We explore the manifestation of paradoxical leader personas in a well-known nonprofit organization by examining self-determination motivational factors (Ryan & Deci, 2000) and dark triad personality traits (Jones & Paulhus, 2014) that catalyze nonprofit leader behaviors. We find evidence of socially responsible nonprofit leader behavior, which is motivated by the self-determination factors competence, autonomy, and relatedness. However, we also find evidence of nonprofit leader moral self-licensing, which is driven by the dark triad traits narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. We then develop five temporal-based nonprofit management control propositions. These management controls balance the need to foster leader’s self-determination in the early stages of nonprofit growth, yet also help to restrain dark triad traits during periods of heightened financial slack. This paper contributes to nonprofit accounting control theory by applying a dual psychology perspective to develop normative leadership controls, of the ‘how’ and ‘when’ type, to improve organizational tone at the top.

Categorizing the integration of hybrid organizations.” With Simon Parker & Peter Moroz.                                       

Abstract

We investigate the impact of B Lab Certification – a rapidly growing type of third-party certification for social enterprises – on the growth of certifying firms. To date, this kind of certification has generally been regarded as an unalloyed good for the social enterprises that adopt it; but prior research has overlooked the possibility that it entails attentional deficits and internal organizational disruption. Based on these considerations, we propose a short-term growth penalty from certification which is especially pronounced for smaller firms. To test these ideas, our study reports results based on a novel, hand-collected dataset of 249 mainly privately held North American Certified B Corporations. Our results, derived from a difference-in-difference framework using data over 2011-2014, identifies a short-term growth penalty from certification, which is more pronounced for the smallest firms. These findings highlight the need for management theorists to pay greater attention to internal re-organization costs as well as external benefits flowing from social enterprise certification; they also carry important practical implications for social entrepreneurs contemplating certification.     

                                                             

Unraveling a Gordian knot of trust in microfinance.

Abstract

Microfinance institutions (MFIs) are recognized for combatting social and economic inequality by providing capital to entrepreneurs. Yet not all MFIs are alike. Some MFIs achieve high levels of long-term performance, demonstrated by near perfect loan repayment rates, while others do not. This study uses the concept of embedded client and community trust to investigate a distinctive approach to achieving long-term MFI performance. The results describe a 25-year process of trust developed and sustained in a Ugandan MFI setting. Five principles describing a trust-performance dynamic are used as the scaffolding for a nonprofit governance framework. This framework could be utilized by other nonprofits aiming to build/sustain trust with constituents while simultaneously improving organizational outcomes.

 

Mapping the benefits of social enterprise newness: signaling integrated purpose models.” With Simon Parker & Peter Moroz.

Abstract

We investigate the impact of B Lab Certification – a rapidly growing type of third-party certification for social enterprises – on the growth of certifying firms. To date, this kind of certification has generally been regarded as an unalloyed good for the social enterprises that adopt it; but prior research has overlooked the possibility that it entails attentional deficits and internal organizational disruption. Based on these considerations, we propose a short-term growth penalty from certification which is especially pronounced for smaller firms. To test these ideas, our study reports results based on a novel, hand-collected dataset of 249 mainly privately held North American Certified B Corporations. Our results, derived from a difference-in-difference framework using data over 2011-2014, identifies a short-term growth penalty from certification, which is more pronounced for the smallest firms. These findings highlight the need for management theorists to pay greater attention to internal re-organization costs as well as external benefits flowing from social enterprise certification; they also carry important practical implications for social entrepreneurs contemplating certification.

 

Tax-exempted nonprofits and positive social change: Promises, pitfalls, and alternatives ” With Pablo Muñoz

Abstract

In this paper we use thought experiments and a positive social change framework to critically examine the soundness of nonprofit tax-exempt status in the pursuit of collective goals. Thinking through problematized assumptions we discovered four illusion traps: false dichotomy, faulty signals, misleading legitimacyand suboptimal performance, which lead to four social change risks: blindness, deafness, heart failure and memory loss. These illusions and risks, we argue, are barriers to the attainment of collective goals. To counterbalance the above conceptions we elaborate on four counteracting generative principles: purpose scrutiny, signal triangulation, execution skepticismand ex-post value, which together offer a path to implementing high impact positive social change. Subsequently, we discuss the implications of our paper for nonprofit stakeholders, policy makers, and management scholars. 

Thank you to the following organizations for their support of my research: