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1. Business and Professional Ethics Journal: Volume > 35 > Issue: 1
David Steingard, Benefit Corporations: Ethics and Efficacy of a New Corporate Form
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2. Business and Professional Ethics Journal: Volume > 35 > Issue: 1
David Steingard, Jay Coen Gilbert, The Benefit Corporation: A Legal Tool to Align the Interests of Business with Those of Society; An Interview with Jay Coen Gilbert, Co-Founder, B Lab
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Jay Coen Gilbert, co-founder of B Lab, discusses his vision for a “new economy” where business is a “force for good.” In this interview, Coen Gilbert provides an overview of how B Lab’s various initiatives—Certified B Corporations, the B Impact Assessment, B Analytics, GIIRS, and Benefit Corporations—function interdependently to accelerate a culture shift to redefine success in business. Coen Gilbert then focuses on the role of benefit corporations in this larger movement. The benefit corporation is a new legal form of business that requires a corporate purpose dedicated to “general public benefit” and the delivery of demonstrable “material positive impact on society and the environment.” Novel fiduciary and reporting requirements differentiate the benefit corporation from the traditional corporation founded on shareholder primacy. Coen Gilbert explains how the benefit corporation is better suited to create long-term shareholder value as well as sustainable value for society, the environment, and other stakeholders. He addresses critiques of and challenges to the benefit corporation as an agent of change for business.
3. Business and Professional Ethics Journal: Volume > 35 > Issue: 1
Daryl Koehn, Why the New Benefit Corporations May Not Prove to Be Truly Socially Beneficial
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Social enterprises may take a variety of legal forms (limited liability companies, nonprofit entities, etc.). This paper focuses primarily upon one particular new form increasingly popular within the United States—the “Benefit Corporation.” I evaluate whether US Benefit Corporations are likely to realize as much social benefit as is frequently claimed. Part One of the paper describes the features of Benefit Corporations as they are constituted in many states. Part Two lays out the benefits extolled by supporters of this US legal corporate form. Part Three challenges these claims and adduces some reasons for doubting whether Benefit Corporations will prove to be as socially useful as they claim to be. Part Four concludes with some suggestions for future lines of research into the nature of the firm and Benefit Corporations in particular.
4. Business and Professional Ethics Journal: Volume > 35 > Issue: 1
Eugene Schlossberger, Dual-Investor Theory and the Case for Benefit Corporations
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Benefit corporations, whose chartered mission includes attending to specific and general social benefits, are sometimes criticized as monstrous hybrids trying to serve two incompatible purposes. Dual-Investor Theory, which regards society as an investor in every business venture (since the knowledge base, infrastructure, etc. that society provides constitute a kind of capital), answers this objection by providing a natural and compelling rationale for benefit corporations. Several other objections to benefit corporations are articulated and addressed, including the problems of greenwashing and mission drift; lack of clear direction; mismatch between quantitative measures and the nature of social benefit; and the charge that benefit corporations are unnecessary and create additional costs and burdens. When benefit corporations are understood in the light of Dual-Investor Theory, they constitute a potentially significant advance, more a hybrid rose than a monstrous hybrid.
5. Business and Professional Ethics Journal: Volume > 35 > Issue: 1
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
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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.
6. Business and Professional Ethics Journal: Volume > 35 > Issue: 1
Notes on Contributors
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7. Business and Professional Ethics Journal: Volume > 34 > Issue: 3
David Bevan, In Memoriam Nigel John Roome, PhD (1953–2016)
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8. Business and Professional Ethics Journal: Volume > 34 > Issue: 3
Vincent Blok, Bart Gremmen, Renate Wesselink, Dealing with the Wicked Problem of Sustainability: The Role of Individual Virtuous Competence
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Over the past few years, individual competencies for sustainability have received a lot of attention in the educational, sustainability and business administration literature. In this article, we explore the meaning of two rather new and unfamiliar moral competencies in the field of corporate sustainability: normative competence and action competence. Because sustainability can be seen as a highly complex or ‘wicked’ problem, it is unclear what ‘normativity’ in the normative competence and ‘responsible action’ in the action competence actually mean. In this article, we raise the question how both these moral competencies have to be understood and how they are related to each other. We argue for a virtue ethics perspective on both moral competencies, because this perspective is able to take the wickedness of sustainability into account. It turns out that virtue ethics enables us to conceptualize normative competence and action competence as two aspects of one virtuous competence for sustainability.
9. Business and Professional Ethics Journal: Volume > 34 > Issue: 3
Jennifer Kiefer Fenton, "Anyone Can Be Angry, That’s Easy": A Normative Account of Anti-Corporate Anger
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Literature in feminist ethics and care ethics has emphasized the value of the emotions for resisting injustice, particularly anger, on the basis of their motivational force, epistemic insight, and normative content. I point to flaws in this approach and introduce an Aristotelian account of anti-corporate anger that establishes normative conditions for which to (1) evaluate the justifiability of the target of negative emotions and (2) evaluate the justifiability of the expression of negative emotions. I look to this account as the basis for defending a corporate culture account of corporate moral personhood. In closing I consider the Occupy Wall Street movement for further insights into the complex nature of anti-corporate anger and corporate moral personhood.
10. Business and Professional Ethics Journal: Volume > 34 > Issue: 3
Christopher Pariso, Bhopal and Engineering Ethics: Who is Responsible for Preventing Disasters?
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In this paper, I will provide a picture of the Bhopal disaster from an engineering ethics perspective. I find that the individual engineers involved in Bhopal acted ethically, for the most part, but that these actions failed to prevent the disaster for structural reasons. Nonetheless, there is no single level of analysis at which the problems that caused the Bhopal incident can be solved. Rather, a coordinated attempt must be made to change how individual engineers conceive of their work, how the professional community conceives of its role in supporting ethical conduct, and how societies use regulatory and judicial systems to provide the right incentives to the organizations that engineers work for.