Integrated sustainable performance management systems: A case study on Italian benefit corporations

Download This Article

Giorgia Nigri ORCID logo, Mara Del Baldo ORCID logo, Armando Agulini ORCID logo


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Today, to integrate sustainable development goals into business, an overall integrated sustainable performance management system — to implement and measure these global goals — is needed. In a short timeframe, the benefit impact assessment (BIA) — elaborated by B Lab, utilized by benefit corporations (a new and emerging hybrid type of prosocial business) and adopted by the United Nations — became the most comprehensive indicator to evaluate company practices against SDGs. Italy was the first sovereign country to insert the benefit corporation legislation after the US and analyze the effectiveness of the BIA. This prompted us to address our attention to the integration of benefit-driven indicators, adopted by Italian B Corps into their performance management systems, and to analyze if these indicators are used by managers to support internal decision-making. To achieve this goal, cross-sector semi-structured interviews were conducted in seven Italian certified benefit corporations. Relevant to both researchers and practitioners, our review provides a useful snapshot of how the BIA is developing as an assessment and how value-based organizations are moving toward an integrated sustainable performance management system.

Keywords: Benefit Corporations, B Corps, Sustainable Performance Management Systems, Small and Medium Enterprise

Authors’ individual contribution: Conceptualization – G.N. and M.D.B.; Methodology – G.N. and M.D.B.; Software – G.N.; Validation – M.D.B.; Formal Analysis – G.N. and M.D.B.; Investigation – G.N.; Resources – A.A.; Data Curation – G.N. and A.A.; Writing – Original Draft Preparation – G.N. and M.D.B.; Writing – Review & Editing – G.N.; Visualization – M.D.B.; Supervision – M.D.B.; Project Administration – M.D.B.; Funding Acquisition – M.D.B.

Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Frances Fabian for her feedback and help in clarifying the structure of the case studies and Janine Hiller for her thoughts. We are also very grateful for the support given by fellow researchers in the field and chairs of our sessions Kevin Levillain, Blanche Segrestien and Jesse Dillard.

JEL Classification: M14, G34, M40

Received: 27.11.2019
Accepted: 20.01.2020
Published online: 22.01.2020

How to cite this paper: Nigri, G., Del Baldo, M., & Agulini, A. (2020). Integrated sustainable performance management systems: A case study on Italian benefit corporations. Corporate Ownership & Control, 17(2), 65-76.