A research project discussed at the Luiss University explores corporate social responsibility, and examines the case of the Zordan company
Producing on all fronts: profit on the one hand, and well-being on the other. While the theme is not new, it is one that bears revisiting. Because the developments that we need to understand are those brought about by the economic and social situation, which is always changing.
As such, “Le società benefit: aspetti competitivi e strategici il caso Zordan” (‘Benefit’ companies: the competitive and strategic aspects of the Zordan case) – the thesis discussed by Valeria Cassano at the Department of Business and Management, Chair of Business Strategies, Luiss University – is a useful read.
Cassano’s research takes its cue from an observation that is lucidly expressed. “Are the maximisation of profit – she writes – and the pursuit of social and environmental goals concepts that can coexist within the same economic reality? Can the common good and mere profit converge in the same direction, without limiting one another? The achievement of a substantial profit and the trialling of initiatives that fall under the category of non-profit activities are concepts that, at least in the mind of the average person, can not coexist within the same economic context. However, this is an erroneous – albeit blameless – belief that is based on a primordial economic concept: companies are created to maximise the profit of shareholders alone.”
The author begins by addressing the theoretical approach of corporate social responsibility, before moving on to discuss hybrid organisations and the “third and fourth sector”, or the voluntary and care sectors. Cassano then shifts her focus to the Italian situation, before delving into the experience of Zordan, a company in the Veneto region engaged in the production of high-end furniture; she traces its evolution from a ‘normal’ company focused on economic development to a so-called “benefit company”, seeking to create a positive impact on society as a whole. She demonstrates how this evolution has not limited the economic growth of Zordan; on the contrary, it has enabled it to develop into a more harmonious and influential organisation.
Valeria Cassano’s study successfully synthesises a complex and still-fluid subject like corporate social responsibility in a relatively limited number of pages and in comprehensible language, without shying away from the difficulties. In her conclusions, she writes: “It is clear that running a sustainable business means taking a gamble in a number of ways: on the one hand, substantial initial investments are essential in order to adapt the production process so that it adheres to the principles of sustainability, as far as production companies are concerned. While on the other hand, there is the concrete possibility that when making his or her final choice, the consumer – who may not fully grasp the importance of the issues that affect our planet and the community as a whole, or who may simply not have the requisite spending capacity – may prefer to opt for more affordable products.”
Le società benefit: aspetti competitivi e strategici il caso Zordan (‘Benefit’ companies: the competitive and strategic aspects of the Zordan case)
Thesis, Luiss University, Department of Business and Management, Chair of Business Strategies, 2019