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Sustainability Footprints in SMEs: Strategy and Case Studies for Entrepreneurs and Small Business by Lowellyne James

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3The Dilemma of Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility

3.1 Introduction

As humanity finally comes to terms with its symbiotic role within our planet’s ecosystem, we are faced with the dilemma of economic growth, but at what cost? And is there a point at which sustainable development becomes unsustainable [1]? Such questions are inherent to the continued interpretation of sustainability, corporate social responsibility (CSR), and its relevance to the changing business environment. Utilizing contemporary research, it can be surmised that sustainability and CSR adoption are influenced by three interoperable factors as illustrated in the sustainability/CSR conceptualization diagram (Fig. 3.1):

The philosophical challenge—ethical frameworks within which humans justify sustainable action or inaction

The cultural challenge—norms and values that are either nurtured or assimilated, which manifests itself in the public sphere as societal norms or within businesses as the organizational culture

The strategic challenge—a holistic expression of organizational goals that assimilates philosophical/cultural values contributing sustainable outcomes for the business entity and society within the prevailing economic context

c3-fig-0001

Figure 3.1 Sustainability/CSR conceptualization diagram.

Source: Author.

The pursuit of sustainability and CSR involves a balancing act between business goals of profitability ...

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