First Advisor

Greg Schrock

Term of Graduation

Spring 2020

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Urban Studies


Urban Studies and Planning




Corporations -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia, Corporations -- Oregon -- Portland, Social responsibility of business -- Certification, Industrial location, Corporations -- Moral and ethical aspects



Physical Description

1 online resource (v, 208 pages)


The growth in conscious consumption presents an opportunity to 1) better understand the potential outcomes of ethical market practices as a community-advocacy tool and 2) to consider potential policy considerations. The marketplace has increasingly become an arena for social action. This leads to the question of how can markets facilitate ethical business practices and community benefits? The recent rise of social benefit corporations warrants an evaluation of the outcomes of ethically-driven markets. Using a comparative research design and qualitative interview methods, this study examines certified Benefit Corporations (B Corps) in two selected cities: Philadelphia and Portland. Through interviews with B Corps and Key Informants in the targeted cities, the research investigates how place-based factors support or impede both the certification process and the adoption of ethical market practices, and evaluates participant perceptions about the impacts of becoming a B Corp. Ultimately the research identifies contextual factors which contribute to why and how firms become B Corps and demonstrates how place can limit or enable local ethical markets. The findings suggest ways contextual location-based factors of culture, institutions and relationships in a climate of supporting motivations, can lead to a potentially impactful cluster of ethical market practices. Theoretical considerations include political consumerism/ ethical markets, social entrepreneurship, clustering and agglomeration economies, and community-led social change. The findings may guide policymakers, community advocates or activists, and scholars to better understand the role of place in the adoption of emergent ethical market practices, and to promote enabling legislation and other supportive factors.


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