William & Mary Business Law Review


Although the ambition to do good by doing business is not new, the burgeoning realization of this ambition is. As the fields of social entrepreneurship and impact investing advance in size, scope and complexity, questions about the roles of corporations and capital markets in society intensify.

What is legal scholarship contributing to this discussion? This Article reviews the scholarly contributions of 260 articles written by over 150 authors about the fields of social enterprise, social finance, and impact investing. The Article maps the contributions of legal scholarship over the last decade—from 2007 (when the term “impact investing” was first coined) through 2017.

Building on prior literature reviews of business scholarship in the field of impact investing, this Article paints a picture of how and where legal scholarship is contributing most robustly to these fields. It also identifies topics and themes where more legal scholarship is needed to advance these fields. Beyond a call for merely more scholarship, this Article highlights the need for legal scholarship relevant to the practical as well as theoretical issues raised by the swelling tide of socially motivated business and capital. Finally, this Article concludes by identifying obstacles to and, importantly, opportunities for legal scholarship to build the fields and lay a path for new business forms and financing models to facilitate the mutual pursuit of profit and purpose.