Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Corporate Reputation Review




Centre for People, Place and Planet


Ibn-Mohammed, T., Herath, S., Swallow, N., Gower, C., Montes, A. P., Brooks, D., . . . Morrison-Saunders, A. (2024). Overcoming the challenges faced by leaders of purpose-led medium-sized businesses: The role of corporate communication and its interplay with corporate reputation and organisational identity. Corporate Reputation Review. Advance online publication.


Induced by worsening environmental conditions, pursuing purpose, not solely profit, now constitutes an ethical obligation for leaders of business organisations, towards future generations. Consequently, increasing numbers of businesses seek to become purpose-led (PLBs), but challenges exist. Despite the significant growth in PLB research since the turn of the millennium, attention has mainly focussed on multinational companies, although small- and medium-sized businesses (MSBs) hugely impact any economy. This research sets out to better understand the challenges faced by leaders of companies undergoing purpose-led MSB transitioning. Thematic analysis of the interview data from founders and leaders of B-Corp certified purpose-led MSBs revealed six specific challenges consistent with literature findings, but also provided uniquely useful insights from the leaders’ perspectives. Integrated business strategies or solutions, which meet multiple challenges simultaneously, revolve around a strong corporate reputation and organisational identity driven by corporate communication. Corporate communication engages stakeholders, builds trust, reinforces reputation, and serves as a strategic intervention for differentiating purpose-led MSBs in the marketplace, shaping organisational identity. Overall, the work provides leaders of MSBs with a practical guide for navigating their challenges and developing leadership practices to enable purpose-led transformations.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.