Multinational Enterprises and the Challenge of Sustainable Development
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Multinational Enterprises and the Challenge of Sustainable Development

Edited by John R. McIntyre, Silvester Ivanaj and Vera Ivanaj

Transnational corporations play a role in the design, diffusion, and consolidation of sustainable development in the context of globalization and multinational firms. In this timely book European and American contributors analyze this role and explore the complex and dynamic phenomena of economic, political, cultural and legal interactions involved.
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Chapter 7: The Future of Sustainable Development and MNEs: A Diffusion Framework

Jonathan Lefevre and Gabriele Suder


Jonathan Lefevre1 and Gabriele Suder Yet in the end, sustainable development is not a fixed state of harmony, but rather a process of change in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development and institutional change are made consistent with future as well as present needs. (WCED, 1987, p. 8) INTRODUCTION New ideas need to be built on previously incorporated ideas if they are to spread from one individual to another, one organization to another and one society to another. If we interpret ideas as innovations, they require receptive ‘mental sockets’ that are compatible with one another in order to be well understood and integrated by the receiver and adopter. Individual ideas can be assembled into coherent blocks to be better exported, understood or simply made more complex. With this in mind, we view sustainable development (SD) paradigms as a recent evolution of a complex set of ideas about the role that corporations and business in general play in society. In 1987, the Brundtland Commission was at the origin of the mental socket for sustainable development (SD). The subsequent evolution of SD implies that these paradigms are prone to change and varying interpretations, which evolve depending on the building blocks and mental sockets of each of its constituent parts. Hence concepts such as corporate social responsibility, corporate citizenship, ‘eco-theology’ and ‘eco-feminism’ (Mebratu, 1998) have developed and are being pushed by phenomena such as global warming, rising awareness of poor working conditions in corporate foreign...

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