Joel Gehman, PhD

Professor of Strategy, Entrepreneurship & Management; Alberta School of Business Chair in Free Enterprise; and Director of the Canadian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, Department of Strategy, Entrepreneurship and Management


Professor of Strategy, Entrepreneurship & Management; Alberta School of Business Chair in Free Enterprise; and Director of the Canadian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, Department of Strategy, Entrepreneurship and Management
(780) 248-5855
3-40 N Business Building
11203 Saskatchewan Drive NW
Edmonton AB
T6G 2R6



Joel Gehman is Professor of Strategy, Entrepreneurship & Management and Alberta School of Business Chair in Free Enterprise at the University of Alberta. He is also Director of the Canadian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility.

He studies sustainability, entrepreneurship, innovation, and strategy. In particular, he investigates how grand challenges related to sustainability and values affect organizational strategies, technology innovation, and institutional arrangements. And reciprocally, how organizations, innovation and institutions affect the emergence and trajectories of grand challenges related to sustainability and values. 

In approaching these questions, Gehman draws primarily on organization theory, together with insights from strategic management, and science and technology studies. His work also takes a process perspective, focusing on the organization of concerns over place and time. 

He is the investigator, co-investigator or recipient of more than $5 million in research funding. His ongoing research examines these issues in the context of technology entrepreneurship, B Corporations, sustainable food and wine, unconventional shale gas drilling, hydraulic fracturing patents, shareholder activism, multinational divestitures, social license to operate, cultural understandings of risk, and university technology spinouts, among others.

Before becoming a professor, Gehman spent 13 years in industry. He regularly advises and consults with diverse organizations. He graduated from Cornell University (B.S.) and the Pennsylvania State University (Ph.D.).

Editorial Positions

  • Journal of Business Venturing, Field Editor
  • Organization Theory, Associate Editor
  • Academy of Management Journal, Editorial Board Member
  • Administrative Science Quarterly, Editorial Board Member
  • Innovation: Organization and Management, Editorial Board Member
  • Journal of Management Inquiry, Editorial Board Member
  • Organization Studies, Editorial Board Member

Other Positions

  • Association of Science & Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta, Board Member
  • B Academics, Cofounder, Vice President and Board Member
  • University of Alberta, Faculty of Graduate Studies & Research, Graduate Scholarship Committee
  • University of Alberta, Future Energy Systems, Research Advisory Committee
  • University of Alberta, General Faculties Council, Programs Committee


Selected Publications

Why We Care About Certified B Corporations: From Valuing Growth to Certifying Values Practices. Academy of Management Discoveries.

The Legitimacy Threshold Revisited: How Prior Successes and Failures Spill Over to Other Endeavors on Kickstarter. Academy of Management Journal.

Hidden Badge of Honor: How Contextual Distinctiveness Affects Category Promotion among Certified B Corporations. Academy of Management Journal.

Values Work: A Process Study of the Emergence and Performance of Organizational Values Practices. Academy of Management Journal.

Serendipity Arrangements for Exapting Science-Based Innovations. Academy of Management Perspectives.

Performativity: Not a Destination But an Ongoing Journey. Academy of Management Review.

Going Public: Debating Matters of Concern as an Imperative for Management Scholars. Academy of Management Review.

Theory Evaluation, Entrepreneurial Processes, and Performativity. Academy of Management Review.

Social License to Operate: Legitimacy by Another Name? Canadian Public Administration.

Technological Exaptation: A Narrative Approach. Industrial and Corporate Change.

Cultural Entrepreneurship: From Making Culture to Cultural Making. Innovation: Organization and Management.

Positively Deviant: Identity Work through B Corporation Certification. Journal of Business Venturing

Unleashing Sustainability Transformations through Robust Action. Journal of Cleaner Production.

Finding Theory-Method Fit: A Comparison of Three Qualitative Approaches to Theory Building. Journal of Management Inquiry.

Beyond Homo Entrepreneurus: Judgment and the Theory of Cultural Entrepreneurship. Journal of Management Studies.

Performativity as Ongoing Journeys: Implications for Strategy, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation. Long Range Planning.

Tackling Grand Challenges Pragmatically: Robust Action Revisited. Organization Studies.

Complexity Arrangements for Sustained Innovation: Lessons from 3M Corporation. Organization Studies

Opaque Transparency: How Material Affordances Shape Intermediary Work. Regulation and Governance.

Metatheoretical Perspectives on Sustainability Journeys: Evolutionary, Relational and Durational. Research Policy

Contextualizing Entrepreneurial Innovation: A Narrative Perspective. Research Policy

Boundaries, Breaches and Bridges: The Case of Climategate. Research Policy.

Selected Awards

2018 Ascendant Scholar Award from the Western Academy of Management

2017 Emerging Scholar Award from the Academy of Management Organizations and the Natural Environment Division 

2017 Roland Calori Prize for the best article published in Organization Studies during 2015-2016 

2016 Campus Sustainability Leadership Award from the University of Alberta

2015 People’s Choice Award from the Alliance for Research on Corporate Sustainability 

2014 People’s Choice Award from the Alliance for Research on Corporate Sustainability 

2013 #1 ranked Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Insight Development Grant 

2012 Best Paper on Environmental & Social Practices from the Academy of Management Organization and Management Theory Division


Published Teaching Cases (all co-authored with former students)

Crafting Policy: The Government of Alberta and Microbreweries

The Drone Debate: How Should Canada’s Military Use Unmanned Aircraft?

EPCOR Utilities Inc: Modernizing Alberta’s Electricity System

Poppy Barley: Weighing the Costs and Benefits of Sustainability Certification

Northgate Industries Ltd.: Sustainability Challenges Involving Public Policy

Earth’s General Store: Balancing People, Planet and Profit in Organic-Food Retailing

Fruits of Sherbrooke: Creating a Sustainable Business

Edmonton City Centre Airport: A Sustainability Challenge for a Growing City

Heritage Chickens: The Challenge of Genetic Sustainability

Seaworld: Are Animal Shows Sustainable after Blackfish?

Transcend Coffee: Local Sustainability Challenges in a Global Industry

After the Oil Sands: Reclaiming Alberta’s Boreal Forests


Interested in research? 

I hire students from all levels and backgrounds to work on my research team. I also supervise visiting PhD students with closely related research interests. 

Think you might be a good fit? Drop me an email telling me why, together with a CV.


SEM 638 - Corporate Sustainability

This course examines business strategies for sustainable development. Business sustainability is defined as managing the triple bottom line - designing mission driven enterprises that provide a thriving future for business, society and the planet. To achieve this, managers must adopt a fresh understanding of the role of the business enterprise. The course will draw from successful sustainability efforts of leading business organizations, both locally and internationally, by identifying key success factors that encourage sustainable business practices. It will also place current understandings of sustainability in a wider context by exploring the historical roots of current sustainability practices and examining their implications for key stakeholders of the business enterprise.

Fall Term 2021

Browse more courses taught by Joel Gehman