Concepts and Definitions of CSR and Corporate Sustainability: Between Agency and Communion

  • Marcel van Marrewijk
Part of the Advances in Business Ethics Research book series (ABER, volume 2)


This paper provides an overview of the contemporary debate on the concepts and definitions of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Corporate Sustainability (CS). The conclusions, based on historical perspectives, philosophical analyses, impact of changing contexts and situations and practical considerations, show that “one solution fits all” definition for CS(R) should be abandoned, accepting various and more specific definitions matching the development, awareness and ambition levels of organizations.


Corporate Social Responsibility Supply Chain Civil Society Corporate Social Responsibility Activity Ambition Level 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Corporate sustainability


Corporate Social Responsibility


European Corporate Sustainability Framework


Socially Responsible Investing


Dutch Employers Association


World Business Council for Sustainable Development



While writing the basic draft of this article in the beautiful valley of the Ardech, France, I made particular use of an overview article on CSR by Math. Göbbels [see  Chaps. 2,  5] and the work of Ken Wilber [see  Chap. 3].

Furthermore, I wish to acknowledge the constructive and useful comments of earlier versions of this article by Teun Hardjono, Marco Werre and my wife, Erna Kraak.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.VlaardingenThe Netherlands

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