“Expanding strategic opportunities in nonprofits: Mapping the interdependencies of critical performance variables.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly. Forthcoming 2019. With Andreas Thorsen and Laura Black.
In this paper we demonstrate the method of participatory causal modeling to map the interdependencies of critical performance variables in a complex nonprofit healthcare provider with considerable financial and operational control challenges. Critical performance variables are output performance dimensions that are fundamental indicators of organizational success. Causal modeling provides an approach for nonprofit leaders to examine how critical performance variables dynamically and recursively affect each other and thereby offers a path to identify key points of leverage for organizational action. Using a case study, we show that participatory system dynamics modeling revealed assumptions, choices, and complexities and so helped a nonprofit healthcare organization recognize possible strategic opportunities. This study demonstrates an approach that other nonprofits may deploy in situations where they are experiencing competing objectives and constraints in managing critical performance variables.
“Going pro-social: Extending the individual-venture nexus to the collective level.” 2018. Journal of Business Venturing. 33(5), 551-556. With Simon Parker, Peter Moroz and Oana Branzei.
The aim of this Special Issue is to demonstrate how drawing on multidisciplinary insights from the literature on prosociality can broaden the individual-opportunity nexus to make room for a variety of actors. All five feature articles emphasize the collective level of the analysis, underscoring the social distance between the entrepreneurs and the different communities they serve. Leveraging construal level theory, we abductively derive an organizing framework that helps us articulate how stretching or compressing social distance can transform initial opportunities into occasions for serving the greater good. We identify two distinct mechanisms present in all five empirical studies that explain how the needs and hopes of many others may add creativity, consistency and connectivity to one’s venture. We also connect these abductive insights with the two editorials that follow this introduction and nudge our collective attention towards the research opportunities awaiting our academic community once we begin to relax the egocentric reference point that until recently, has defined the discipline of entrepreneurship.
“'Bang for buck' in microfinance: Wellbeing mentorship or business education?” 2018. Journal of Business Venturing Insights. 9 (June), 137-144.
Within the microfinance literature, there is a growing interest in institutional logics. This paper explores ways that microfinance institutions can overcome the logic-tension of offering developmental programs and maintaining financial stability. First, I conduct a randomized control trial in Uganda to examine the financial and non-financial outcomes of loan recipients. Second, I use results from the field experiment, in a resource allocation model, to optimize the goals of a lending institution. I find that wellbeing mentorship, rather than business training, is the best ‘bang for buck’ when considering the interests of both the women entrepreneurs and the microfinance lending institution.
“The impact of B Lab certification on firm growth.” Academy of Management Discoveries. Forthcoming 2019. With Simon Parker, Peter Moroz and Oana Branzei.
We investigate the impact of B Lab certification – a rapidly growing type of third-party certification for organizations with social and/or environmental missions – on the short-term growth rates of certifying firms. To date, this kind of certification has generally been regarded as an unalloyed good for the organizations that adopt it; but prior research has overlooked the possibility that it may also entail attentional deficits and internal organizational disruption, leading to a short-term growth slowdown. Our study reports results based on a novel, hand collected dataset of 249 mainly privately held North American Certified B Corporations over 2011-2014. Our results, derived from a difference-in-difference framework, and augmented with insights from a set of in-depth interviews, identifies a short-term growth slowdown arising from certification, which is more pronounced for the smallest and youngest 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 B Lab certification; they also carry important practical implications for organizations contemplating certification.
“Imprinting with purpose: New pro-social opportunities and B Corp certification.” 2018. Journal of Business Venturing. 33(2), 117-129. With Simon Parker, Peter Moroz and Oana Branzei.
Certified B Corporations are ventures that have chosen to embrace third party voluntary social and environmental audits conducted by an entrepreneurial non-profit enterprise called B Lab. In this special issue, we focus on the lifecycle of Certified B Corporations and its relation to the entrepreneurial journey. We highlight research at the intersection of entrepreneurial opportunities and prosocial certification to identify patterns and processes which add significant value to ongoing conversations in the field of entrepreneurship while charting new research pathways. We develop a framework of prosocial venturing and certification that pinpoints several elements of likely consequence and curiosity. This offers new insights about the entrepreneurial process that hint at the importance of opportunity, identity metamorphosis and sedimentation/ superseding work. We thereby interpret how the exploration of pro-sociality may add to conversations on how and why ventures resist or embrace change over time, to what effect and ultimately, how opportunities may be reBorn.
“Spiritually informed not-for-profit performance measurement.” 2017. Journal of Business Ethics. 141(3), 451-468. With Haley Beer.
Performance measurement has far-reaching implications for not-for-profit organizations because it serves to legitimize, attract resources, and preserve expectations of stakeholders. However, the existing theory and practice of not-for-profit performance measurement have fallen short, due in part, to an overuse of profit-oriented philosophies. Therefore, we examine not-for-profit performance measurement by utilizing Marques’ (J Bus Ethics 92:211–225, 2010) “five spiritual practices of Buddhism.” Marques’ spiritual practices—a pro-scientific philosophy, greater personal responsibility, healthy detachment, collaboration, and embracing a wholesome view—are the foundation of our research design. Responses from senior not-for-profit practitioners (n = 63) support the linkages between spiritual practices and not-for-profit performance measurement. We identify three essential performance measurement principles and elaborate on their capacity to generate awareness, higher meaning, and connectedness within not-for-profits.
“The case for competition: learning about evidence-based management through case competition.” 2014. Academy of Management Learning & Education. 13(3), 433-445. With Blake Jelley.
Over the last century, business cases have developed into a centerpiece of management education (Hammond, 1976; Mesney, (2013). More recently, the use of cases in business schools has extended beyond the classroom setting. Students around the world invest considerable time and energy to prepare for and compete in case competitions. We argue that an annual case competition should be established that embodies an evidence-based management (EBMgt) perspective. We extend previous suggestions about adapting case-based teaching to better support EBMgt (e.g., Goodman & O'Brien, 2012; Rousseau & McCarthy, 2007), recognizing that such a shift requires a fundamental change to how many business educators use cases (Mesney, 2013). We believe an EBMgt-focused case competition can promote greater awareness and use of the EBMgt concept, benefiting students and other stakeholders.
“Unpacking not-for-profit performance.” 2014. Journal of Social Entrepreneurship. 5(1), 77-106. With Peter Moroz.
Little is known about the relationship between entrepreneurial orientation (EO) and performance within not-for-profit (NFP) organizations. Through the development of a conceptual framework for understanding how EO may function within an NFP context, we propose three separate interaction effect models to examine organizational performance outcomes as measured in terms of high growth. Four conceptualizations of high growth are offered. Based on a theoretical consideration of social capital and financial accounting theory, we propose that NFP executives who possess a combination of EO and two other key factors, a social mission orientation and financial sustainability orientation, will be a strong predictor of high-growth organizational performance. The model thus builds upon previous research that explores the relationship between entrepreneurial behavior, market orientation and performance by distinguishing between market and non-market stakeholders and the need to balance between both when pursuing entrepreneurial opportunities.
Thank you to the following organizations for their support of my research: