Monday, March 10, 2008

B Corporations: incorporating CSR into the business model?

A concept introduced by a group of social entrepreneurs, B ('Benefit') Corporations seek to "create benefit for all stakeholders, not just shareholders, by meeting comprehensive and transparent social and environmental performance standards; institutionalize stakeholder interests; and build collective voice though the power of a unifying brand."

To learn more, visit
For a panel hosting the B-Corporation co-founders, go to


Socio-Economic Alchemist said...

I'm interested to learn more about the audit and compliance function. If I recall, there is a self-submitted survey that tests for many attributes of corporate behavior.

Based upon the massive amount of money that corporations spend on establishing themselves as a "Good" brand, am I hyper-cynical to think that self-initiated survey responses might be less than forthcoming?

Kind of like the difference between an individuals' profile on versus the reality of the first date!

Also, a nitpicky point -I have an emotional reaction to the term "CSR" or Corporate Social Responsibility. Legally speaking a corporation's only responsibility is to profit. My preference is to always speak of it as Corporate Social Behavior (aligned with Professor Joel Bakan's "The Corporation") instead of applying a term that may not be a part of any particular business.

David said...

The interesting thing is that while it is true that corporate law has been traditionally associated with Shareholder-Value Maximization (especially since the famous Dodge V. Ford decision by the Michigan Supreme Court in the early 20th century), it has also been increasingly willing to accept other social goals and purposes for corporations to pursue. Yet, it was the business culture and the dominance of mainstream legal and economic thinkers that made this focus on short-term profit maximization for stockholders the law "on the ground" as we now know it.

More on this fascinating debate can be found in Kent Greenfield's book, "The Failure of Corporate Law" (2006):

And Lawrence Mitchell's book, "The Speculation Economy," provides a detailed account of the emergence of the shareholder-value maximization ethos: