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The how and why of a firm’s approach to CSR and sustainability: a case study of a large European company


  • Anna Pistoni

    () (University of Insubria)

  • Lucrezia Songini

    (University of Eastern Piedmont)

  • Oriana Perrone

    (Bocconi University)


Abstract This paper aims to analyse “how” and “why” a company engages in CSR and sustainability. The “how” concerns the features of the firm’s CSR and sustainability approach, defined in terms of a firm’s strategy (implemented issues, initiatives and activities) and organization (organizational structures and roles and managerial systems adopted). The “why” refers to the key determinants, both internal and external, of CSR and sustainability. Finally, how the firm’s CSR and sustainability approach evolves over time and the relation between CSR determinants in various stages of the CSR evolutionary path are also investigated. The research method is based on the longitudinal analysis of a case study concerning a large multinational company operating in the telecommunications industry in Europe. The analysis of the case study shows that sub-cultural differences in the approach to CSR and sustainability may occur across hierarchical levels and functional units. Moreover, embedding CSR and sustainability principles doesn’t follow a linear and continuous process, made by sequential stages. Indeed, it can be characterized by an up and down evolutionary path, based on different stages with a changing emphasis given to CSR and sustainability issues. Finally, we find that the firm CSR and sustainability approach is not an autonomous choice, but it is a consequence of the contingent role played by both the external and the internal drivers and by their relative importance during the company’s CSR history.

Suggested Citation

  • Anna Pistoni & Lucrezia Songini & Oriana Perrone, 2016. "The how and why of a firm’s approach to CSR and sustainability: a case study of a large European company," Journal of Management & Governance, Springer;Accademia Italiana di Economia Aziendale (AIDEA), vol. 20(3), pages 655-685, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jmgtgv:v:20:y:2016:i:3:d:10.1007_s10997-015-9316-2
    DOI: 10.1007/s10997-015-9316-2

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Paul C. Godfrey & Nile W. Hatch, 2007. "Researching Corporate Social Responsibility: An Agenda for the 21st Century," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 70(1), pages 87-98, January.
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