Reflected Organizational Images: A Social Identity Model of Social Entrepreneurship in BOP Markets

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We develop a model building on social identity with organizations to explain how intermediary firms may alleviate poverty in base of the pyramid (BOP) markets. To further the research on both BOP markets and social identity theory (SIT) we draw on stakeholder theory. We describe how intermediary firms are able to reflect intended images across stakeholder groups to foster identification in one stakeholder group by reflecting images from another stakeholder group. Intermediaries connect BOP producers with customers in developed markets and as such are able to control which images are reflected to those customers. Customers then identify with these reflected images of BOP producers. Depending on the product, the intermediary will reflect different images of the BOP producers. Customer identification, in turn, aids in value creation for the intermediary and the BOP producer. Ultimately, this performance can enable consistent income for BOP producers, which can alleviate poverty – perhaps even more so than other interventions such as micro-financing or direct aid. We contribute to SIT by developing the concept of reflected image and we advance research on poverty alleviation in BOP markets by providing a theoretical model of intermediation as a way to sustain, and potentially create, jobs.


Academy of Management Annual Conference (AOM)


Philadelphia, PA