Shifting the SME Corporate Model Towards Sustainability: Suggestions from Italian Company Law

by Laura Marchegiani

While Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is currently at the center of debates regarding company law all over the world, the discourse on this topic remains predominantly focused on large enterprises operating at a multinational level. The purpose of this paper is to introduce some reflections on the relationship between CSR and smaller companies. It examines what organisational solutions can be found in the regulatory framework of Italian company law to encourage small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to transition towards sustainability. Firms of this dimension represent ninety nine per cent of European businesses and account for more than ninety per cent of the world’s business enterprises that need to make this transition. Despite the fact that SMEs are defined as the ‘backbone of Europe’s economy’, organisational models of sustainability in SMEs have not yet been studied in depth, and the usefulness of company models that combine altruistic and lucrative corporate purposes, and above all impose a sustainable manner of action on company activities, are still to be analysed comprehensively as they relate to enterprises of a smaller dimension.
The main contribution of this article is to identify the effects of the introduction of the ‘Società Benefit’ model into Italian company law and examine the first empirical evidence from its application. Useful operational tools are drawn from it, especially for smaller companies, which, inspired by this business model, can develop their own sustainability strategies by relying on an organisational model that highlights comprehensive communication and analysis of non-financial performance.

DOI 10.23815/2421-2156.ITALJ           ISSN 2421-2156

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