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Review of Law & Economics

Editor-in-Chief: Parisi, Francesco / Engel, Christoph

Ed. by Cooter, Robert D. / Gómez Pomar, Fernando / Kornhauser, Lewis A. / Parchomovsky, Gideon / Franzoni, Luigi

3 Issues per year

CiteScore 2017: 0.30

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.195
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.410

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Volume 11, Issue 1


Cui Bono, Benefit Corporation? An Experiment Inspired by Social Enterprise Legislation in Germany and the US

Sven Fischer / Sebastian J. Goerg / Hanjo Hamann
  • Corresponding author
  • Max-Planck-Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Kurt-Schumacher-Str. 10, 53113 Bonn, Germany
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Published Online: 2015-02-28 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/rle-2014-0036


How do barely incentivized norms impact incentive-rich environments? We take social enterprise legislation as a case in point. It establishes rules on behalf of constituencies without institutionalized means of enforcement. By relying primarily on managers’ other-regarding concerns while leaving corporate incentive structures unaltered, how effective can such legislation be? We ran a laboratory experiment with a framing likened to German corporate law which traditionally includes social standards. Our results show that a stakeholder provision, as found in both Germany and more recent US regulation, cannot overcome material incentives. Yet even in the absence of adverse incentives the stakeholder duty does not foster other-regarding behavior. Our experiment illustrates the paramount importance of taking into account both incentives and framing effects when designing institutions. We tentatively discuss potential policy implications for social enterprise legislation and the stakeholder debate.

Keywords: stakeholder value; social enterprise; benefit corporation; corporate law; experiment

JEL Classification: A12; D01; D03; L21; M14; M52


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About the article

Published Online: 2015-02-28

Published in Print: 2015-03-01

Citation Information: Review of Law & Economics, Volume 11, Issue 1, Pages 79–110, ISSN (Online) 1555-5879, ISSN (Print) 2194-6000, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/rle-2014-0036.

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