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Business and Professional Ethics Journal

Volume 35, Issue 2/3, Summer/Fall 2016

Special Issue on Benefit Corporations, Part 2

Perry Goldschein, Paul Miesing
Pages 109-128
DOI: 10.5840/bpej2016121947

How Benefit Corporations Effectively Enhance Corporate Responsibility

Corporations evolved from serving a public purpose at the beginning of the seventeenth century to, legally and culturally, primarily maximizing profit for shareholders which continues at the beginning of this twenty-first century. Government and civil society have largely continued serving the public interest over time, but have struggled to keep pace with increasing and rapidly evolving challenges in recent decades. While social entrepreneurs and the corporate sector have stepped in to help address these challenges, through the practice of corporate responsibility, they have faced unnecessary hurdles in doing so. The benefit corporation was established in 2010 both to remove these hurdles and also help further unleash the power of business to address society’s most pressing problems. Despite various criticisms, benefit corporations are doing just that – enhancing the practice of corporate responsibility in the process – and will continue to improve over time. This paper summarizes the advantages of benefit corporations, points out some shortcomings which serve as areas for improvement, and addresses some of these criticisms.