Social corporations under the spotlight: A governance perspective

Coline Serres*, Marek Hudon, François Maon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
38 Downloads (Pure)


A series of new legal statutes for profit-seeking social ventures has emerged across geographic and institutional settings. Extant studies commonly do not make a clear distinction between these ventures. Such confusion leads to blurriness in research design and methodology, thereby limiting the relevance of findings. Moreover, researchers, entrepreneurs, and policymakers often lack a clear view of the unique organizational and governance aptitudes these ventures call for, to sustain and grow over time. Thus, this study has two objectives: (1) to clarify the panorama of novel companies that legally commit themselves to a social mission, gathered under the term “social corporation,” by providing a comprehensive typology of these organizations and (2) to identify the governance capabilities that social corporations develop to be sustainable and avoid mission drift in the long run. Our analysis of corporate-governing documents leads us to classify social corporations into three types: hard-law, soft-law, and bylaw. In addition to this typology, our multiple case study uncovers five key governance capabilities of social corporations related to performance, conformance, and responsibility—the main pillars of organizational governance. Overall, our work contributes to a better understanding of novel forms of social entrepreneurship emerging on the market. More important, it casts light on the governance processes that characterize them.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106192
JournalJournal of Business Venturing
Issue number3
Early online date9 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - May 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Associate Editor Sophie Bacq and three anonymous reviewers for their valuable insights and suggestions. For comments on earlier drafts of the manuscript, the authors thank Adrien Billiet, Judith Behrens, Francesca Cooley, Silvia Dorado, Marc Labie, Marthe Nyssens, Samuel Anokye Nyarko, Daniela Ortiz and Roxanne Powell. They also thank François Declercq, Gabriele Mauro, Juliette Michaud, Nadia Ouazir, Helena Placentino and Hélio Venegas Riquelme for their research assistance. Finally, this research has been carried out thanks to the support of the Interfaculty Action de Recherche Concertée funded by the Université Libre de Bruxelles under the title “Locals dealing with Developmental Incomes,” and of La Fondation de la Catho de Lille.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Inc.


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