“Benefit Corporations: Ethics and Efficacy of a New Corporate Form”
Edited by David Steingard, Acting Director, Pedro Arrupe Center for Business Ethics, Saint Joseph’s University
Benefit Corporations represent a novel legal and organizational form of business incorporation that specifically requires companies to make a “material positive impact on society and the environment and to meet higher standards of accountability and transparency” (http://benefitcorp.net). Research on Benefit Corporations falls within the domain of hybrid organizations working to integrate competing tensions of profits and principles in business. Organizational forms and management practices in this research domain are often characterized by these designations: profit-with-purpose; fourth sector; cross-sector social interactions; cross-sector social partnerships; social enterprise; sustainable management; shared value creation; strategic stakeholder management; corporate social responsibility; mission-driven, and triple bottom-line.
This special issue invites theoretical, empirical, and practice-oriented papers examining Benefit Corporations in terms of two interrelated themes—ethics and efficacy. Ethics critically evaluates the normative and theoretical assumptions of the Benefit Corporation as a vehicle to deliver positive social and environmental impact. Efficacy examines, from practitioner and empirical perspectives, the degree to which the Benefit Corporation is able to deliver on its stated design objectives within the contemporary capitalist economy.
The following questions suggest possible areas of inquiry:
- Do Benefit Corporations represent a significant improvement on existing legal, theoretical, and organizational forms of business working to integrate profits and principles?
- What is the normative ethical analysis of Benefit Corporations—is the good they produce good enough?
- How can we assess the substantive contribution of Benefit Corporations to a larger movement of capitalism that integrates positive social and environmental impact into its mission, culture, and strategy? (Robson, 2015). Do Benefit Corporations in practice retard progress of this movement? (André, 2015). How, if at all, do Benefit Corporations relate to the Business and Human Rights movement (Cragg, Arnold, and Muchlinski, 2012)?
- What are the experiences of existing Benefit Corporations from the practitioner point of view? What can we learn from practitioners to make Benefit Corporations more effective? What can we learn from failed Benefit Corporations?
- What are legal concerns about Benefit Corporations? What legislative advancements to Benefit Corporations are needed to increase their effectiveness in delivering social and environmental impact? Are Benefit corporations legally necessary—can a new “impact economy” (https://www.bcorporation.net) be achieved without them?
Papers Are Due:
May 1, 2016
See guidelines from the Business and Professional Ethics Journal website: www.pdcnet.org/bpej
Please send inquiries, proposals and papers electronically to: