Journal of Business Venturing

Category Membership, Identity Control, and the Reevaluation of Prosocial Opportunities

Conger, McMullen, Bergman, and York, 2018

We extend current knowledge on prosocial organizing by explaining how membership in organizational categories lead entrepreneurs to reevaluate their firms’ activities and opportunities. Through a qualitative study of 46 firms that pursued B Corp certification, we developed an identity control model of prosocial opportunity. Our findings suggest that joining a prosocial category catalyzes identity-driven reflexivity, which can alter the firm’s engagement in prosocial activity. This identity-driven process occurs in tandem with evaluations of opportunity viability and attractiveness, the potential for intra-organizational conflict, and the relative power and position that category legitimacy affords the firm. Our findings contribute to literature streams on prosocial organizing, identity, and categories.


Conger, M., McMullen, J. S., Bergman, B. J., & York, J. G. 2018. Category membership, identity control, and the reevaluation of prosocial opportunities. Journal of Business Venturing, 33(2): 179–206.