Sustainable Development, Corporate Sustainability, and Corporate Social Responsibility: The Need for an Integrative Framework
Stefano Pogutz

Assistant Professor of Management

The “Giorgio Pivato” Institute of Management

Bocconi University, Viale Filippetti, 9 - 20122 – Milan, Italy

Tel. +39.02.5836-3638 - Fax +39.02.5836-3691

E-mail: stefano.pogutz@unibocconi.it

This paper contributes to the ongoing theoretical debate on sustainable development (SD), corporate sustainability (CS), and corporate social responsibility (CSR) – with the goal of proving that there is a missing link between these conceptual dimensions. Over the past decade SD, CS, and CSR have been widely discussed in academic literature. As key objectives, these concepts have guided government programs and policies worldwide; moreover, many corporations are leading the surge toward sustainability. Nonetheless, twenty years after the publication of “Our Common Future” (1987), the call for a radical “shift” in our production and consumption patterns has become even more urgent because actual progress toward achieving SD has been very limited.

This article explores the relationship between the bio-economic approach to sustainability and the individual firm’s approach, focusing on how SD is being adapted by managerial science. A corporate win-win strategy, which successfully leads to efficiency and sustainability according to the managerial paradigm, does not necessarily imply that the corporation is contributing to SD according to an ecosystem view. In other words, a series of companies that may seem individually to be CS- or CSR-oriented (according to the managerial theory), are not necessarily sustainable. In fact, the theoretical approach to CS and CSR is ignoring concepts such as “limits”, “carrying capacity”, unsubstitutability of forms of capitals. But bridging the theoretical distance between SD and CS/CSR is key to overcome barriers to sustainable business models. The Sustainable Ecosystems Stewardship can be considered as an integrative framework for these perspectives.

Key words: Sustainable Development, Corporate Sustainability, Corporate Social Responsibility, Management Theory, Sustainable Ecosystems Stewardship

Full Paper (.pdf format, 339.0 kb)

All Submissions
8:00 AM-8:00 PM, Friday, June 15, 2007, Oral

The Ontario, Canada 2007 Meeting