Volume 35, Issue 1, Spring 2016
Special Issue on Benefit Corporations
Why the New Benefit Corporations May Not Prove to Be Truly Socially Beneficial
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.