Introduction: From Corporate Social Responsibility to Sustainable Business Models

  • Lars MoratisEmail author
  • Frans Melissen
  • Samuel O. Idowu
Part of the CSR, Sustainability, Ethics & Governance book series (CSEG)


The concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR), defined here as coordinated business actions aimed at a more sustainable world, has always been fairly controversial, both from the perspective of academic discourse and from the perspective of corporate practice. In its most basic terms, questions have been asked about whether corporations can and should actually have social responsibilities and, if so, to what extent? (cf. Davis 1973; Moon et al. 2005). Reflecting on the social responsibilities of business, a scholarly debate has developed that has given rise to a multitude of conceptions on the roles and responsibilities of business in society. These conceptions roughly vary from Friedman’s position that the social responsibility of business is to increase its profits (Friedman 1970) to positions about CSR that reflect the principle of sustainable development as formulated in the well-known “Brundtland report” as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (WCED 1987: 204) and that now extend to and is operationalized through the Sustainable Development Goals. While different positions on the responsibilities of business in society remain to be held, partly motivated by political beliefs and worldviews, the question “what is a business for?” is nowadays answered in a way that aligns with a broader conception including taking into account the interests of and being accountable to a broader set of stakeholders than merely those with a financial or otherwise economic concern as well as society as a whole, nature and future generations. A survey among consumers from 10 of the world’s largest countries showed that some 81% thought that firms have responsibilities going (far) beyond creating shareholder value, with 31% thinking that firms should change the way they operate to align with greater social and environmental needs (Cone Communications/Echo 2013).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lars Moratis
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Frans Melissen
    • 1
  • Samuel O. Idowu
    • 3
  1. 1.NHTV Breda University of Applied SciencesBredathe Netherlands
  2. 2.Antwerp Management SchoolAntwerpBelgium
  3. 3.London Metropolitan UniversityLondonUK

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