Entity and Identity

72 Pages Posted: 4 Nov 2010 Last revised: 4 Oct 2015

See all articles by Usha Rodrigues

Usha Rodrigues

University of Georgia School of Law

Date Written: November 2, 2010


The function, indeed the very existence, of nonprofit corporations is under-theorized. Recent literature suggests that only preferential tax treatment adequately explains the persistence of the nonprofit form. This answer is incomplete. Drawing on psychology’s social identity theory, this Article posits that the nonprofit form can create a special "warm-glow" identity that cannot be replicated by the for-profit form. For example, a local nonprofit food cooperative is selling more than the free-range eggs or organic strawberries that Whole Foods and other for-profits market so effectively. The co-op offers community participation and an investment in local farms, a distinctive ethos that is incompatible with the profit motive. Ascribing a special meaning to the nonprofit form allows us to view afresh a variety of issues regarding the appropriate legal treatment of nonprofits.

Keywords: nonprofit, social identity theory, tax, corporations, business organization, business association, low-profit limited liability company, L3C

JEL Classification: K34, L30

Suggested Citation

Rodrigues, Usha, Entity and Identity (November 2, 2010). Emory Law Journal, Vol 60, pp. 1257-1322, 2011, UGA Legal Studies Research Paper No. 10-17, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1701285

Usha Rodrigues (Contact Author)

University of Georgia School of Law ( email )

225 Herty Drive
Athens, GA 30602
United States
706-242-5562 (Phone)

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