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Many companies have recently been following the so-called corporate purpose concept that is recommended by leading management scholars. To this end, they identify a raison d'être for their enterprise that goes beyond mere profit making and they anchor it in the entire value chain. This paper puts the corporate purpose concept in perspective by linking it to the larger debate on corporate social responsibility and by outlining its theoretical foundations and practical application. It then goes on by explaining how this management concept fits into the company law framework, looking to France and the UK as well as to the US and Germany. Finally, this paper assesses various policy proposals made by leading purpose proponents, ranging from mandatory purpose clauses in the articles of association to say-on-purpose shareholder voting and dual-purpose business organisations.

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