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Assessing the Accountability of the Benefit Corporation: Will This New Gray Sector Organization Enhance Corporate Social Responsibility?

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  • Rae André

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    Abstract

    In recent years the benefit corporation has emerged as a new organizational form dedicated to legitimizing the pursuit of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Eschewing traditional governmental authority, the benefit corporation derives its moral legitimacy from the values of its owners and the oversight of a third party evaluator. This research identifies the benefit corporation as a new type of gray sector organization (GSO) and applies extant theory on GSOs to analyze its design. In particular, it shows how the theory of GSO accountability can be used to assess the potential of benefit corporations for enhancing CSR. This research first examines the statutes that have established benefit corporations in five states in the US, along with bills in other states, to show how legislation defines their specific public benefits and holds them accountable for delivering these benefits. It then compares the accountability of the benefit corporation with that of other corporate-centric GSOs, e.g., GSOs that closely resemble traditional corporations. It concludes with significant design-based concerns about the utility of the benefit corporation as an effective organization for implementing CSR. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s10551-012-1254-1
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Business Ethics.

    Volume (Year): 110 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 1 (September)
    Pages: 133-150

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    Handle: RePEc:kap:jbuset:v:110:y:2012:i:1:p:133-150

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    Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=100281

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    Keywords: Accountability; B-corporation; Benefit corporation; Government-sponsored enterprise; Gray sector organization;

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    1. Ulf Richter, 2010. "Liberal Thought in Reasoning on CSR," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 97(4), pages 625-649, December.
    2. Philipp Schreck, 2011. "Reviewing the Business Case for Corporate Social Responsibility: New Evidence and Analysis," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 103(2), pages 167-188, October.
    3. Alessandro Zattoni, 2011. "Who Should Control a Corporation? Toward a Contingency Stakeholder Model for Allocating Ownership Rights," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 103(2), pages 255-274, October.
    4. Ina Freeman & Amir Hasnaoui, 2011. "The Meaning of Corporate Social Responsibility: The Vision of Four Nations," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 100(3), pages 419-443, May.
    5. Messner, Martin, 2009. "The limits of accountability," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 34(8), pages 918-938, November.
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