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The International Handbook of Social Enterprise Law

Benefit Corporations and Other Purpose-Driven Companies

  • Book
  • Open Access
  • © 2023

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  • Provides a complete picture of the social enterprise movement, its evolution, and their different forms
  • Offers a broad overview of social enterprises in Europe and the USA, but also in China, Japan and Korea
  • Provides an authoritative and comprehensive overview and describes the remarkable global range of current initiatives
  • This book is open access, which means that you have free and unlimited access

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Table of contents (46 chapters)

  1. Purpose-Driven Companies: An International Overview


About this book

This open-access book brings together international experts who shed new light on the status of social enterprises, benefit corporations and other purpose-driven companies. The respective chapters take a multidisciplinary approach (combining law, philosophy, history, sociology and economics) and provide valuable insights on fostering social entrepreneurship and advancing the common good.

In recent years, we have witnessed a significant shift of how business activities are conducted, mainly through the rise of social enterprises. In an effort to target social problems at their roots, social entrepreneurs create organizations that bring transformative social changes by considering, among others, ethical, social, and environmental factors. A variety of social enterprise models are emerging internationally and are proving their vitality and importance.

But what does the term “social enterprise” mean? What are its roots? And how does it work in practice within the legal framework of any country? This handbook attempts to answer these questions from a theoretical, historical, and comparative perspective, bringing together 44 contributions written by 71 expert researchers and practitioners in this field. The first part provides an overview of the social enterprise movement, its evolution, and the different forms entities can take to meet global challenges, overcoming the limits of what governments and states can do. The second part focuses on the emergence of benefit corporations and the growing importance of sustainability and societal values, while also analyzing their different legal forms and adaptation to their regulatory environment. In turn, the last part presents the status quo of purpose-driven companies in 36 developed and emerging economies worldwide.

This handbook offers food for thought and guidance for everyone interested in this field. It will benefit practitioners and decision-makers involved in social and community organizations, as well as in international development and, more generally speaking, social sciences and economics.

Editors and Affiliations

  • Geneva Centre for Philanthropy, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland

    Henry Peter

  • University of Almería, Almería, Spain

    Carlos Vargas Vasserot

  • Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile

    Jaime Alcalde Silva

About the editors

Henry Peter is a full professor at the University of Geneva, Faculty of Law, and has set up and been the head of the now internationally know university’s Geneva Centre for Philanthropy since 2017. For over 30 years, his teachings and numerous publications have focused on companies’ structures and governance and their social responsibility and purpose. In 2014, he launched the “Philanthropy Series,” a series of successful public conferences at the university. Additionally, he is a member of a number of organizations dealing with governance and ethical issues and sits on several boards of public entities as well as foundations, associations, and private companies.

Carlos Vargas Vasserot is a full professor of Commercial Law at the University of Almeria (Spain) and director of the Center for Research in Social Economy Law and Cooperative Enterprise (CIDES), which has become an academic reference in Spain in a few years, with important international connections. He has an extensive scientific career, being the author of more than 80 papers and several academic books for which he has received some scientific awards. He is currently the principal investigator of three R&D&I projects that deal with corporate social innovation, social enterprises, and social cooperatives, which are currently the main lines of research.

Jaime Alcalde Silva is an associate professor of private law at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Faculty of Law. For 15 years, his teachings and publications have focused on the law of contracts, land law, company law, and social enterprises and cooperatives. In these two last matters, he worked as a consultant to the Minister of Economy, Development, and Tourism of the Republic of Chile during 2014–2015. In 2015, he coordinated the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Chilean commercial code. Since 2016, he has participated in the commission to elaborate on the project of the new Commercial Code for Chile.

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: The International Handbook of Social Enterprise Law

  • Book Subtitle: Benefit Corporations and Other Purpose-Driven Companies

  • Editors: Henry Peter, Carlos Vargas Vasserot, Jaime Alcalde Silva

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Springer Cham

  • eBook Packages: Law and Criminology, Law and Criminology (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2023

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-031-14215-4Published: 30 December 2022

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-031-14218-5Published: 17 January 2024

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-031-14216-1Published: 29 December 2022

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XVIII, 960

  • Number of Illustrations: 1 b/w illustrations

  • Topics: Private International Law, International & Foreign Law, Comparative Law , Business Law, Business Ethics, Education, general

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