Introduction: the logic of sustainable enterprise
There are bookshelves full of the societal role of enterprise, analyses on how companies should behave, how they actually behave and why things are the way they are. It is a
daunting task to add another book to these ranks. We have nevertheless chosen to take up this challenge. After all, rarely has the societal role of business been considered as important as it is today. Societal challenges are more pressing than ever before, and these challenges will clearly affect business continuity. This in turn affects the core processes of the business. How can products and services be profitable and meet societal needs at the same time? This is a challenge for managers: What is expected of me and how is our company perceived in the societal debate and the challenges facing society? What can I do about this as a manager? This is what societally responsible or sustainable business practice is about. What can the private sector contribute to the quality of society as a whole? How can companies’ core competencies be applied responsibly to deliver an economically, societally and environmentally optimal contribution? What are reasonable expectations when it comes to minimising the undesirable side effects of business operations, such as pollution and depletion of natural resources?