Sustainability By Corporate Citizenship - The Moral Dimension of Sustainability

Martin-Luther-Universit├Ąt Halle-Wittenberg Discussion Paper No. 04-11

23 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2007

See all articles by Ingo Pies

Ingo Pies

Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg

Markus Beckmann

Leuphana University Lueneburg

Date Written: 2004


It is the nature of powerful ideas that they can summarize a ground-breaking concept in a plain and simple message. In this sense, the concept of sustainability is a very powerful idea. However, although the sustainability debate has already brought about considerable conceptual progress, a pivotal dimension to sustainable development has so far been widely neglected. This article argues that in addition to the ecological, economic, and social dimension, sustainability critically depends on the moral dimension of institutional legitimacy. Against the backdrop of globalization, conventional models of creating and legitimizing institutions are increasingly challenged. Therefore, it is also business that is to play an ever more important role in contributing to fair and functioning institutions. The article discusses "corporate citizenship" as an economic concept as a useful starting point for this new understanding of the business of business. In effect, the underlying objective of this paper is to present a theoretical link between the concepts of sustainability and corporate citizenship. The central thesis is that private enterprises who cooperatively take responsibility for their institutional environment strengthen the moral dimension of institutional legitimacy: They actively contribute to empowering sustainability by corporate citizenship.

Keywords: sustainability, corporate citizenship, corporate social responsibility, institutions, legitimacy, globalization, global governance

JEL Classification: A11, D02, D63, M14, Q01, Q56

Suggested Citation

Pies, Ingo and Beckmann, Markus, Sustainability By Corporate Citizenship - The Moral Dimension of Sustainability (2004). Available at SSRN: or

Ingo Pies (Contact Author)

Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg ( email )

Grosse Steinstrasse 73
Halle/Saale, DE Saxony-Anhalt 06108
+49 0 345 55 23420 (Phone)


Markus Beckmann

Leuphana University Lueneburg ( email )

Scharnhorststrasse 1
Lueneburg, 21314
+49(0)4131-677 2167 (Phone)
+49(0)4131-677 2186 (Fax)


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