Corporates social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability includes economic viability, environmental integrity, and social responsiveness. These include programs, processes, activities, and products that enable organizations not only to deliver long-term economic or financially beneficial returns, but improvements in environmental and social systems.
Research in this area spans across corporate, public and community sectors and aims to align business and performance strategy with financial, organisational, social, and environmental goals that, collectively, are included in the concept of integrated business performance. Specific research focus includes topics such as reviewing, analysing and assisting with the development of frameworks and appropriate key performance indicators for corporate governance, as well as for social and environmental reporting; determining suitable governance policies, especially for the public and not-for-profit sectors; and building strategies for stakeholder engagement and sustainable corporate community investment, including sustainable return on investment.
Research methodologies are both quantitative and qualitative, and engage – amongst others – field case studies, participatory action research, institutional analytical frameworks, stakeholder theoretical approaches, legitimacy theoretical approaches and systems oriented frameworks. CSR and sustainability is a dynamic and relevant field of study for prospective research students wishing to contribute to current discussion on this topic.
Six differences between CSR and Sustainability
These two terms can seem interchangeable, but there are some subtle, and not so subtle, differences between them.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) looks backwards, reporting on what a business has done, typically in the last 12 months, to make a contribution to society. Sustainability looks forward, planning the changes a business might make to secure its future
(reducing waste, assuring supply chains, developing new markets, building its brand).
CSR tends to target opinion formers – politicians, pressure groups, media. Sustainability targets the whole value chain – from suppliers to operations to partners to end consumers.
CSR is becoming about compliance.
Sustainability is about business.
CSR gets managed by communications teams.
Sustainability by operations and marketing.
CSR investment is rewarded by politicians.
Sustainability investment is rewarded by the City
CSR is driven by the need to protect reputations in developed markets.
Sustainability is driven by the need to create opportunities in emerging markets.