Beyond corporate responsibility: Constructing sustainable and inclusive economies

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Abstract

Purpose: Societies face unprecedented challenges in terms of environmental sustainability and social inclusiveness. Businesses can, and should, play a role in delivering these outcomes, but their attempts to do so have so far produced mixed results. As such, it is important to take a more holistic approach, in order to understand how sustainable and inclusive economies can be constructed.
Approach: The paper starts by exploring the importance of focusing on the processes by which sustainable and inclusive outcomes are delivered. This is followed by two short case studies, on biodiversity offsetting and social investment. Finally, a research agenda is introduced which addresses the construction of sustainable and inclusive economies.
Findings: The paper demonstrates that sustainable and inclusive economies can be the product of deliberate design choices. Moreover, it highlights how complex assemblages of agents – human and non-human – are involved in these processes. And finally, the article highlights how best practices are not always transposable to different contexts, which can cause implementation problems.
Implications: In order to deliver sustainable and inclusive outcomes it is often necessary for businesses to engage with a multitude of actors. Likewise, they are cannot avoid the social grand challenges altogether, especially given the increased political and social pressure to penalise bad corporate citizens. Strategically, businesses have much to gain from engaging in the construction of the economies they operate in, in cooperating with other social agents.
Contribution: this paper contributes an augmented vision of business responsibility, which goes beyond the ‘bolt-on’ approach of Corporate Social Responsibility, and puts environmental and social issues at the heart of the company. This involves understanding and engaging with the society in which businesses operate, the technical devices which govern that society, and the specificities of the locales in which business activity takes place. Such a view would enable the development of an economy which allows simultaneously for financial returns, environmental sustainability and social cohesion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-86
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Business
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018

Keywords

  • Sustainability
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • social investment
  • Biodiversity offsets

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