Published Papers & Conference Presentations

Effective participation in the social enterprise sector requires an understanding of the connections between business practices and/or market structures and various social outcomes. SE@G-supported faculty and students execute research projects that advance knowledge in this important domain.

The Profit Orientation of Microfinance Institutions and Effective Interest Rates

Peter W. Roberts

With the rise in the number of for-profit microfinance institutions (MFIs), commentators are asking whether the sector benefits by MFIs having stronger profit orientations. We address this question by analyzing the relationship between interest rates and adopting the for-profit legal form, appointing private sector representation and traditional banking experience to advisory boards, and participating in more extensive for-profit networks. The results consistently indicate that a stronger for-profit orientation corresponds with higher interest rates for MFI clients. However, this does not contribute to greater profitability and therefore sustainability because the stronger profit orientation is also associated with higher MFI costs.

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  • Published in World Development, 2013, 41, pp. 120-131 (Google Scholar citations = 3).
  • Presented at the University of Illinois

Global Foundations of Charitable Activity

Wesley Longhofer

Social scientists have long been interested in the origins of generosity, altruism, and solidarity in society. However, few studies have looked at the effects of social context on organized charitable activity, particularly from a cross-national perspective. This project examines the effects of global and domestic institutions on charitable activity among individuals and organizations in a large number of countries. Part One of the project uses international survey data to predict individual membership in charitable organizations in 35 countries. Part Two draws upon an original dataset to predict the emergence of grant making foundations in more than 100 countries. The project situates philanthropic and charitable activity in what world society scholars have called a global moral order that champions virtue and positions voluntary associations, including foundations and charities, as legitimate actors for solving global problems.

Shared Value or Conflicting Values? A Comparative Analysis of Company-Sponsored and Independent Foundations

Justin Koushyar, Wesley Longhofer and Peter W. Roberts

Notwithstanding the shared value thesis and corresponding debates, evidence about the implications of greater company involvement in the social sector is sparse. We provide some of this evidence by examining one channel of corporate influence within the nonprofit sector - company sponsorship of philanthropic foundations. We propose that company-sponsored foundations benefit from having access to the resources of sponsoring companies, but are constrained by their additional market-based motivations. Consistent with these expectations, our analysis shows that company-sponsored foundations raise more funds and distribute grants with lower paid overheads. However, their grant-making is more dispersed and less relational, and they tend to be governed by more ephemeral officers and trustees. These findings offer mixed support for the shared value thesis and avenues for further research.

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  • Presented at the European Group for Organizational Studies 2012 Colloquium
  • Presented at Georgia State University Nonprofit Studies Program
  • Accepted for presentation at the 2013 Society for the Study of Social Problems Annual Conference

Early Entrants and the Spatial Evolution of the B Corporation Population

Justin Koushyar

Recent organizational innovations are allowing for-profit organizations to more visibly and effectively pursue social objectives. One of these innovations, the Certified B Corporation emerged in 2007 and has experienced tremendous growth over the past 5 years from 81 organizations to approximately 495 by the end of 2011. This paper analyzes the early arrival patterns of B Corporations across urban areas throughout the United States, paying particular attention to how attributes of the earliest entrants, including their age, media visibility, and social performance might influence subsequent entry patterns.

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  • Presented at the INSEAD-OMT-ASQ Conference on Organization Theory and New Venture Creation

Founders and the Social Performance of B Corporations

Li-Wei Chen and Peter W. Roberts

Despite increasing attention in management journals, we still have little evidence about the factors that systematically influence the social performance of organizations. This is due in part to the lack of a set of consensus criteria for measuring social impacts and a concomitant lack of large-scale datasets that describe the social performance of organizations. Both of these limitations are easing with the current proliferation of B Corporations. B Corps are organizations that are certified by a nonprofit called B Lab to meet specific standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. This paper presents a preliminary analysis of the social performance of 460 US B Corps before discussing some lingering issues that must be addressed before we are able to develop a robust account of the factors responsible for social value creation among for-profit organizations.

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  • Accepted for presentation at the 2013 Academy of Management Annual Meeting (Best Papers and Proceedings)