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Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility: Creating Value for Business, Society and the Environment

 

 

 

This an excerpt from my latest open-access paper in Springer’s Asian Journal of Sustainability and Social Responsibility.

This review paper has built on the previous theoretical underpinnings of the corporate social responsibility agenda including Stakeholder Management, Corporate Citizenship and Creating Shared Value as it presents the latest Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility perspective. This value-based model reconciles strategic CSR and environmental management with a stakeholder approach to bring long term corporate sustainability, in terms of economic performance for the business, as well as corporate responsibility’s social outcomes.

Recently, some international conferences including Humboldt University’s gatherings in 2014 and 2016 have also raised awareness on this proposition. The corporate sustainability and responsibility concept is linked to improvements to the companies’ internal processes including environmental management, human resource management, operations management and marketing (i.e. Corporate Sustainability). At the same time, it raises awareness on the businesses’ responsible behaviours (i.e. Corporate Responsibility) toward stakeholders including the government, suppliers, customers and the community, among others. The fundamental motivation behind this approach is the view that creating connections between stakeholders in the value chain will open-up unseen opportunities for the competitive advantage of responsible businesses, as illustrated in Table 2. Corporate sustainability and responsibility focuses on exploiting opportunities that reconcile differing stakeholder demands as many corporations out there are investing in corporate sustainability and responsible business practices (Lozano 2015). Their active engagement with multiple stakeholders (both internal and external stakeholders) will ultimately create synergistic value for all (Camilleri 2017).

 

Multinational organisations are under increased pressures from stakeholders (particularly customers and consumer associations) to revisit their numerous processes in their value chain activities. Each stage of the company’s production process, from the supply chain to the transformation of resources could add value to their businesses’ operational costs as they produce end-products. However, the businesses are always expected to be responsible in their internal processes toward their employees or toward their suppliers’ labour force. Therefore, this corporate sustainability and responsibility perspective demands that businesses create economic and societal value by re-aligning their corporate objectives with stakeholder management and environmental responsibility. In sum, corporate sustainability and responsibility may only happen when companies demonstrate their genuine willingness to add corporate responsible dimensions and stakeholder engagement to their value propositions. This occurs when businesses opt for responsible managerial practices that are integral to their overall corporate strategy. These strategic behaviours create opportunities for them to improve the well-being of stakeholders as they reduce negative externalities on the environment. The negative externalities can be eliminated by developing integrated approaches that are driven by ethical and sustainability principles. Very often, multinational businesses are in a position to mitigate risk and to avoid inconveniences to third parties. For instance, major accidents including BP’s Deep Horizon oil spill in 2010, or the collapse of Primark’s Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh, back in 2013, could have been prevented if the big businesses were responsible beforehand.

In conclusion, the corporate sustainability and responsibility construct is about embedding sustainability and responsibility by seeking out and connecting with the stakeholders’ varied interests. As firms reap profits and grow, there is a possibility that they generate virtuous circles of positive multiplier effects (Camilleri 2017). Therefore, corporate sustainability and responsibility can be considered as strategic in its intents and purposes. Indeed, the businesses are capable of being socially and environmentally responsible ‘citizens’ as they are doing well, economically. This theoretical paper has contributed to academic knowledge as it explained the foundations for corporate sustainability and responsibility. Although this concept is still evolving, the debate among academic commentators is slowly but surely raising awareness that are needed to deliver strategic results that create value for businesses, society and the environment.

References

Camilleri MA (2017) Corporate sustainability, social responsibility and environmental management: an introduction to theory and practice with case studies. Springer, Heidelberg, Germany

Lozano R (2015) A holistic perspective on corporate sustainability drivers. Corp Soc Responsib Environ Manag 22(1): 32-44.

 

How to Cite: Camilleri, M.A. (2017) Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility: Creating Value for Business, Society and the Environment. Asian Journal of Sustainability and Social Responsibility. 1-16. DOI: 10.1186/s41180-017-0016-5

 

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The Responsible Management of Marketplace Stakeholders

Excerpt from: Camilleri, M. (2017). The Rationale for Responsible Supply Chain Management and Stakeholder Engagement. Journal of Global Responsibility, 8(1).

supply chain
(source: GreenBiz)

Generally, firms are becoming more proactive in their engagement with responsible supply chain management and stakeholder engagement. Very often, corporate responsible behaviours could form part of their broader strategic commitment toward stakeholders (Zhu, Sarkis and Lai, 2013; Walker, Di Sisto and McBain, 2008; Walker and Preuss, 2008), This contribution is based on the premise that corporations could make a genuine and sustaining effort to align their economic success with corporate social responsibility in their value chain.

The corporations’ differentiated strategies as well as their proactive engagement in responsible supply chain practices can lead them to achieve a competitive advantage in the long term. In this case, firms may have  sophisticated responsible procurement processes in place. Therefore, they could be in a better position to support their different suppliers. On the other hand, there could be low‐cost producers that may be neglecting socially responsible supply chain management. In a similar vein, niche operators may not necessarily adopt responsible supply chain practices. Nevertheless, such firms tend to exhibit stronger ties with their suppliers; they may be relatively proactive vis-a-vis their socially responsible behaviours.

Previous studies indicated that there are significant gaps between policy and practice
(Govindan, Kaliyan, Kannan and Haq 2014; Preuss, 2009; Yu, 2008; Egels-Zanden, 2007), For the time being; firms may (or may not) be inclined to implement responsible supply chain and manufacturing processes on a voluntary basis. However, the big businesses are increasingly becoming aware that they are susceptible to negative media exposure, stakeholder disenfranchisement, particularly if they are not responsible in their supplier relationships (or if their social and environmental policies are not fully-implemented),

Arguably, a differentiated strategy can serve as a powerful competitive tool in the global marketplace as the customers’ awareness of social and responsibility rises. Notwithstanding, many stakeholders are increasingly becoming acquainted with fair trade and sustainability issues; as empowered consumers and lobby groups could enforce firms to invest in a more responsible supply chain.

Undoubtedly, there are opportunities for the proactive firms who are keen on integrating
responsible practices into their business operations. It is in these firms’ interest to report about their responsible supply chain management, social performance and sustainable innovations to their stakeholders. The corporations’ environmental, social and governance disclosures will help them raise their profile in their value chain.

The responsible businesses can possibly achieve a competitive advantage as they build (and protect) their reputation with stakeholders. Of course, there are different contexts and social realities. The global supply chain and the international NGOs also play a critical role in the enforcement of responsible behaviours in the supply chain.

In conclusion, this paper contended that the responsible supply chain management as well as forging stakeholder relationships with suppliers and distributors enable businesses to create shared value to society and for themselves.

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