Abstract

Stigma is an organizational reality. Scholars have long demonstrated its ubiquity in various forms; as a repercussion of particularly unacceptable organizational behavior (Elsbach & Sutton, 1992), as a result of undesirable organizational outcomes (Elsbach, 1994; Sutton & Callahan, 1987), or even as a consequence of unintended associations with stigmatized groups (Dutton & Dukerich, 1991). Furthermore, organizations can be subject to “core” stigma (Hudson, 2008), and be stigmatized through their mere existence when important audiences view their practices and/or key clients with disdain (Helms & Patterson, 2014; Hudson & Okhuysen, 2009; Vergne, 2012). These audiences often impose sanctions and/or withhold support, thereby threatening the organizations’ abilities to fulfill their goals (Hudson, 2008). However, scholarship on core stigma has generally focused on organizational attempts to exist within the confines of that stigma, while avoiding its negative consequences (Hudson & Okhuysen, 2009; Vergne, 2012). Yet, some entrepreneurs, aspire to normalcy for their firms, and strive to remove the stigma. As such, the question becomes, how do firms remove core stigma? In this study I seek to understand how entrepreneurs in the core- stigmatized medical cannabis industry are attempting to increase audience support and remove organizational stigma.

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