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Stakeholders, the Environment and Society

Edited by Sanjay Sharma and Mark Starik

The role of stakeholders is integral to corporate sustainability as society increasingly demands that corporations play a role in achieving environmental objectives in addition to building shareholder wealth. In the first book to gather cutting-edge research on the interactions between stakeholders and organizations within the context of corporate sustainability, the contributors to this volume provide a diversity of perspectives from North America, Europe, and Oceania.
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Chapter 8: Organizational Innovation as an Opportunity for Sustainable Enterprise: Standardization as a Potential Constraint

David Wheeler and Michelle Ng


David Wheeler and Michelle Ng INTRODUCTION Despite the sincere efforts of thousands of environmental and corporate social responsibility (CSR) managers in businesses worldwide it is uncontroversial to assert that business, as a global institution, still has a long way to go in fully integrating principles of sustainable development effectively either into strategy or into day to day management. Indeed, despite the progress being made by many large international businesses, frequently exemplified by the membership of a range of enlightened business associations,1 there is little evidence to suggest that the global economy as a whole is becoming more environmentally efficient, socially benign or economically just (Stiglitz, 2002; World Resources Institute, United Nations Environment Program and the World Business Council on Sustainable Development, 2002). Meanwhile, the twin pressures of economic globalization and technological change continue to accelerate the political, social and ecological pressures on corporations, adding to the governance challenges facing boards, top management teams and general management (Wheeler, 2003). On the question of corporate governance Sundaramurthy and Lewis (2003) note that there is now a need to significantly shift the focus of board responsibilities in order to better balance agency theory and stewardship theory. This will require the development of new capabilities to manage complexity and paradox, for example, balancing authority and democracy, discipline and empowerment. Such a shift would be more consistent with a ‘stakeholder approach’ to strategic management (Freeman, 1984). At the level of top management teams there are now a number of...

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