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The double-edged sword of purpose-driven behavior in sustainable venturing


  • Muñoz, Pablo
  • Cacciotti, Gabriella
  • Cohen, Boyd


This paper examines the relationship between purpose and purposeful organizing and how such arrangements influence the entrepreneurial journey as sustainable ventures move from idea to markets. We leverage an iterative multi-stage process-tracing design to understand the mechanisms whereby 14 different B Corp certified organizations embed purpose before, during and after the certification process. Our analyses reveal three types of venture paths for purpose-driven entrepreneurs, which are shaped by distinct imprinting sequences with three critical sensitive windows playing a pivotal role: the definition of scope of purpose, timing of purpose formalization through B Corp Certification and shifts in the source of feedback. Different imprinters occurring within the critical sensitive windows shape particular imprinting sequences triggering situations of both productive and counterproductive path development. Our results challenge the assumed linear relationship between purpose and purposeful organizing and more specifically the belief that seeking (purposeful) B Corp certification at firm foundation is necessarily productive for society and for the ventures themselves regardless of when the certification is achieved.

Suggested Citation

  • Muñoz, Pablo & Cacciotti, Gabriella & Cohen, Boyd, 2018. "The double-edged sword of purpose-driven behavior in sustainable venturing," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 149-178.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jbvent:v:33:y:2018:i:2:p:149-178
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jbusvent.2017.12.005

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    References listed on IDEAS

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