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Sustainability starts with a sustainable business.On consumers expectations towards sustainability and corporate responsibility.

Book Contribution - Chapter

Sustainability seems to be the optimistic answer to contemporary 'risk society' (McDonagh 1998: 592), a society facing problems such as global warming, global financial and economic crisis and social exclusion. Because of the promise it shows, sustainability has become a key issue for business and policy trying to meet social, ecological and economic goals. Whereas dealing with today's society's challenges is considered to be the 'core business' of policy makers, also firms find themselves under increasing pressure to protect the environment, to give money to charities and invest in social programs in their communities (Mohr et al 2001:45).

High societal expectations regarding a sustainable attitude of businesses have however resulted in epistemological haziness. The very concept of sustainability has become a container concept, which prevents a clear understanding of the issues at stake. The difficulty of a clear and up to date definition of sustainability is illustrated by the fact that professional literature accepts and quotes the one that was already put forward in 1987 by the UN Brundtland Commission in their report 'Our Common Future': "Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." From this perspective, sustainability has been applied today as a principle to a wide range of business and organizational activities related to durability and environmental issues, as well as to social issues and corporate (social) responsibility. Sustainability is often used next to, or even intermixed with other concepts such as corporate (social) responsibility, societal marketing, ...

This article departs from the broad conceptualization of sustainability as a key responsibility and commitment of today's business to minimizing or eliminating any harmful effects and maximizing its long-run beneficial impact on the preservation of the planet, animal, personal health, next to concern about the market place and the own organization (based on: McDonagh 1998: 598; Mohr et al.2001:47).
Book: Research report on the role for brands and companies to further the cause of sustainability
Series: Research report on the role for brands and companies to further the cause of sustainability
Publication year:2009
Keywords:sustainability, consumer behaviour, corporate communication
  • ORCID: /0000-0001-8273-8989/work/84664092