Volume 35, Issue 1, Spring 2016
Special Issue on Benefit Corporations
David Steingard, William Clark
The Benefit Corporation as an Exemplar of Integrative Corporate Purpose (ICP)
Delivering Maximal Social and Environmental Impact with a New Corporate Form
This paper offers a new model of corporate purpose and applies it to the emerging legal form of the benefit corporation. First, corporate purpose is applied to the two currently dominant models of shareholder and stakeholder focus. Both are found inadequate to promote positive social and environmental impact because they remain anchored in a profit-seeking corporate purpose. Second, we offer an alternative model of Integrative Corporate Purpose (ICP). Third, we apply ICP to benefit corporations as an ethically superior model for promoting the common good. The benefit corporation offers four advancements: (1) positive duties to stakeholders; (2) legal protections for managers and directors to manage for the common good; (3) a requirement to have a purpose geared toward public benefit; and (4) required reporting of benefits to stakeholders and the environment. The implications of benefit corporations are discussed within the larger arena of corporate social responsibility.