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Business and Professional Ethics Journal


published on December 29, 2016

Summer Brown
DOI: 10.5840/bpej2016122151

Benefit Corporations
A Case Study in the Issues of Implementation and Adoption of the Fastest Growing Business Form in the United States

Due to growing consumer demand for mission-driven businesses, new corporate forms have emerged over the past decade in the United States. The Benefit Corporation is the fastest-growing of these new forms. Benefit Corporations are for-profit, but allow the firm to declare a “social purpose/benefit” in its articles of incorporation and permit the firm to pursue the benefit in tandem with increasing shareholder value. This paper first attempts to evaluate how effectively states have implemented this legislation. This paper extrapolates potential problems in the irregularities of visibility and record-keeping across the various states through the analysis of data accessibility and legislative differences. Irregularities in the public rollout of this legislation affect the transparency of Benefit Corporations and, as a result, the ability for stakeholders to hold the firm accountable. Complicating these issues is the fact that Benefit Corporation advocacy is largely centralized in a few third party organizations. This paper examines some of the downfalls of such conflated public/private involvement in implementing successful innovative business structures.