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An examination of the symbiosis between corporations and society with lessons for management education and practice

GVER, Vol. 6 No. 3, (2012)

In Biology, symbiosis describes two unlike organisms living together, and one can distinguish between parasitism and mutualism. In the former only one organism benefits at the expense of the other, while in the latter both organisms benefit from the symbiosis. In this contribution, we will show how corporations and business, once expected to provide a benefit to society, have evolved into organizations whose only concern is to maximize shareholder profits, often at the detriment of stakeholders (e.g. employees and communities) and the environment. Several recent particularly significant examples will be used in order to illustrate this point. We will also provide a thorough but accessible overview of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainable management theory in order to show how businesses and management education are responding to recent events.

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