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Monday, May 7, 2007

Carbon credits, for-benefit corporations, and pre-nups.

A few business stories this past weekend caught my attention:

Dan Mitchell's "What's Online" column asks, "How clean is your carbon credit?" (New York Times 5.5.07), and points to this in-depth Financial Times package on carbon trading.

Stephanie Strom's article, "Make money, save the world: Businesses and nonprofits are spawning corporate hybrids" (New York Times 5.6.07), discusses a range of enterprises sometimes called "the fourth sector":

The result is a small but budding practice — what some label the fourth sector — composed of organizations driven by both social purpose and financial promise that fall somewhere between traditional companies and charities. The term "fourth sector" derives from the fact that participants are creating hybrid organizations distinct from those operating in the government, business and nonprofit sectors. But because the types of participants vary widely and much of the activity is nascent, no single name for what is occurring has gained broad use.

"There's a big movement out there that is not yet recognized as a movement," said R. Todd Johnson, a lawyer in San Francisco who is working to create an online wiki to engage in the give and take of information for what he calls "for-benefit corporations," another name for fourth-sector activities.

Consumers, employees, managers and — perhaps most important — investors are driving the phenomenon.

"Young M.B.A. students are not satisfied with going to work for a normal corporation because they are passionate to do good in the world and do it in business," Mr. Johnson said. "People of faith want exactly the same thing, and there is a whole generation of people who've become extraordinarily wealthy as a result of the technological revolution and are now asking themselves if they can create change in the world."

Those desires are reflected in the growth of so-called sustainable enterprise programs at the nation's most prestigious business schools, in the corporate marketing campaigns that emphasize social benefits instead of mere sex appeal, and a blossoming of new investment vehicles like Good Capital, Investors' Circle, Underdog Ventures and the Social Venture Network.

I think it's worth noting in this context that the LDS Church's vast corporate holdings may work exactly this way for the church.

Finally, in a story about a couple trying to decide whether their surprisingly uncomplicated finances are sufficiently in order to get married, a financial advisor proves to me that I do not think like a financial advisor:

And regarding that monstrous prenup, she advises all her clients to have one: "It's better to essentially write your own divorce when you like each other." ("Anxieties surface as couple considers tying the knot," Linda Tucci, Boston Globe 5.6.07)

There's a thought.

Copyright © 2007 by Philocrites | Posted 7 May 2007 at 8:10 AM

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