Handbook of Corporate Sustainability
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Handbook of Corporate Sustainability

Frameworks, Strategies and Tools

Edited by M. A. Quaddus and M. A.B. Siddique

Achieving corporate sustainability (CS) is one of the most difficult challenges facing organizations in the twenty-first century. This comprehensive Handbook examines the current status and future direction of sustainability frameworks and applications in the corporate environment.
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Chapter 11: Economics, Corporate Sustainability and Social Responsibility

Clem Tisdell


Clem Tisdell 1. INTRODUCTION The main objective of this chapter is to show that the continuing economic (financial) viability of a corporation is the dominant factor determining its survival. A corporation cannot afford to adopt social and environmental behaviours that will compromise its economic viability, otherwise the corporation will not be sustainable. Self-interest limits the extent to which corporations can engage in socially desirable behaviours and survive, particularly if externalities or public good elements are present. When externalities and public good elements are present, collective corporate action is required for improved social and environmental outcomes but these actions can usually only be brought about by state intervention designed to police the rules of collective corporate behaviour. In such cases, state intervention helps to establish a level playing field for corporate competition and allows most corporations to discharge their social and environmental ‘duties’ without becoming insolvent. It is contended in this chapter that social rules are necessary to limit self-serving behaviour and improve the performance of market systems. These rules in turn support the sustainability of the commercial sector and market economic systems. The chapter at first considers whether or not there is a single or triple bottom line for the survival of a corporation. It then examines in depth, and in turn, economic viability, social and environmental responsibility as requirements for the sustainability of a corporation. In discussing economic viability, such matters as what is required for corporate economic viability, the influence of uncertainty on this viability and the extent...

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