New Perspectives in Research on Corporate Sustainability series
Edited by Sanjay Sharma and Mark Starik
Chapter 1: Stakeholders, the Environment and Society: Multiple Perspectives, Emerging Consensus
Sanjay Sharma and Mark Starik Scholars substantially agree that the concept of sustainability encompasses at the very least ecological integrity, social equity and economic security (e.g., Gladwin, Kennelly and Krause, 1995; Starik and Rands, 1995). Therefore, corporations that begin their journey toward sustainability need to go beyond the inclusion of economic criteria in their decision-making by examining ecological impacts such as those on the carrying capacity and biodiversity of ecosystems, and social impacts such as those on the culture and quality of life of diverse human social groups and their future generations. Most businesses have traditionally only responded to regulations in their social and ecological performance and have not developed the willingness, knowledge and capabilities for achieving these objectives within their organizations. However, the role of stakeholders and society in general is integral to corporate sustainability from two major perspectives: civil society, as represented by a diversity of stakeholder groups, increasingly demands that corporations play a role in achieving societal and environmental objectives in addition to building shareholder wealth; and, that corporations need to engage stakeholders to generate knowledge for future survival and competitiveness in a global economic system that large segments of society visualize as increasingly unsustainable. THE SOCIETAL PERSPECTIVE A diversity of stakeholder groups has proliferated for a variety of reasons to represent the concerns of diﬀerent segments and interests of civil society and to play a role in the governance of corporations for sustainable outcomes. 1 2 Stakeholders, the environment and society Declining Faith in Government...
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