Today my thesis advisor reviewed my proposed methodology. I must admit, it was a bit of a wake up call. During the consultation, I realized an internal struggle between Nicole who is a critical academic looking to pick-apart any claim of goodness and Nicole who believes in and wants to support the work of people trying to make the world a better place. I was stuck in this unconscious dichotomy, where people have avid, blind support for certifications or believe them to only be methods of greenwashing. Jim reminded me that there is no such dichotomy. The fact is that certifications are here. And we must fairly examine their true impacts to their goals. He emphasized the need for critical support. People who want to see the best out of something, but don’t provide blind support for a system that can improve.
In review of my methodology plan, Jim pointed out that my current methodology was missing a critical component- why any type of certification scheme would create businesses with a purpose more than profit. In my haste to devise a methodology, I had begun with how does recertification show improvement, and failed to acknowledge the serious consideration if this mechanisms for social justice is impactful. Do businesses with certifications actually reduce waste or improve wages of employees? My thesis must address the effectiveness of certifications. I have decided to include a literature review regarding the impact of certifications. I will review popular papers which determine the ‘on the ground’ impacts of certifications. This process will most likely reveal general consensus on the successes and failures of certifications. I will then proceed with my analysis of recertified B Corps and conduct interviews with local businesses to get more information as to their experience with the process and impacts of B Corps. Lastly, I will draw parallels between the analysis and rhetorical knowledge of Portland B Corps and the certification literature at large. I will continue to devise a project which is in some way contributing to the knowledge base available for movements toward global good.